Sunday, December 28, 2014

Youth Leadership Programs - 2015

Youth Leadership Programs - 2015 

Program: YLP speech contest / graduation
Pasadena Fundamental Elementary
95 72nd St N, St Petersburg, FL 33710 
.Date: Thrus. 1/15
 Time:  5:30 - 8pm

AKAdemy program​  - Juniors & Seniors
Johnson Branch Library
1059 - 18th Ave So - St. Pete, FL  33705
Wednesdays  - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Jan 7
Jan 14
Jan 28
Feb 4
Feb 11
Feb 18
Mar 4
Mar 11


Building a Toolbox

  • The vision board
  • Extemporaneous / impromptu speaking-called Table Topics (T T)
  • Your first speech - title: About Me 
  • Learning the art of speech evaluation
  • Each student will receive the  Youth Leadership Handbook 

The goals of each meeting:
  1. A fun way for your children to learn public speaking.
  2. Creating and learning how to answer those extemporaneous questions,  build speeches, present speeches and evaluate speeches.
  3. Lots of emphasis on the use of filler words, such as like, and,so, also overcoming the use of hums & ah's.
  4. The program is based on weekly participation, if possible. Becoming a good speaker is work and the more often the child speaks, the quicker their confidence will grow.
  5. Experience growth with guest speakers, evaluations by experienced speakers, and continuing mentor-ship.
  6. At each meeting the children actively participate in evaluating each other.
  7. This will be a continuing program.

Timing: each meeting will have an assigned timer
  • T T : up to 1 minute
  • Speeches: 2-3 minutes
  • Evaluations: up to 1 minute

Location: Hope Lutheran Church
Address:  1801 62nd Ave N. 
                St. Petersburg, Fl. 33702 - parking behind building on 18th St.
                                                            look for YSTA signs
Meeting time depends on how many students 10-12pm
Dates tentative: 
June 17 - 24 
July  1 - 8 - 15 - 22 - 29
Aug.  5
Aug.  6  Graduation / Speech Contest -- families are invited  5:30 - 8pm

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What do the students think?

Mr. York,You are so very funny and give very good speeches. You have helped me so much. I will never forget this class and it will help me later when I am an adult because I am not as scared to speak in front of a crowd anymore. I have become a better speech writer and speaker. Thank You Mr. York.
Dear Mr. York,“ As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.” ( Irish Blessing) And hopefully you will not fall off until the end. And at the end, may you land softly on your feet. ( Ending by Connor)
Follow Me on Pinterest
Mr. York,You are the best. No other speeches are better than yours. Toastmasters is soooo fun and you're right, Go Giants! You are so funny and awesome. Thank You so much.
Mr. York,You are a great teacher. I now know how to speak in front of a crowd. I have also learned how to write speeches. Thank you a lot. I have grown as a speaker and writer .Sincerely  
Dear Mr. York,
I think you are fun. This was one of the best things that I've done all school year. I had a great time because you were there. You helped me learn to speak in public. Thank You.
Dear Mr. York,
You always have funny or sad stories to share with us each day you come in. You are the best Toastmaster in my opinion. Every time you come in everybody cheers up instantly. You are one of the funniest people I know!Best 
Mr. York,
What I learned from Toastmasters is that if you stand up and take a stand, you can change the world...but you have to be prepare and memorize your speech. It is also very good to use gestures in speeches. Now we are prepared to change the world. Thank You Mr. York!
Mr. York,
Thank you for Toastmasters. Whenever I think of the word 'Toastmasters' I think of toasted marshmallows. Yum. Anyways, people are always telling me Toastmasters will be a great learning experience. I thought writing a speech was like writing a story. But you taught me it's not. Thank you for teaching me. The career I want includes being an entertainer or a writer. Thank you.
Best Wishes,
.Mr. York,
Thank You for Toastmasters! I had a blast. You were the best Toastmasters teacher I've ever had. I will never forget you. I love everything about Toastmasters. It was an awesome experience.
Best Wishes,
Dear Mr. York,
I really liked Toastmasters. I now have the courage to stand up and speak. Thank you for teaching me how to speak correctly. Toastmasters was fun. I will use these skills.
.Dear Mr. York,
You taught me how to be a better writer/speech giver. I thank you because now I can put more of me in my writing. I really think that you did a great job. And I think you are really funny.
Thank you,
.Dear Mr. York,
Thank you so much for helping me and teaching me how to speak in front of people. Also, for teaching me how to write speeches. The Liz Murry speech helped me with grades because thinking that she got good grades makes me get good grades. And the nicest thing you did was giving me the Toastmasters book.
Your friend
Dear Mr. York,
Thank you so much for helping me speak up. I have always had a fear of speaking in front of people, but after Toastmaster, I'm not as freaked out! Toastmasters  has been a great experience for me and my classmates. Even though Toastmaster is ending, I hope to see you again. Remember when I saw you at  Panera? Hopefully, I will be able to enter the speech competition.Best Wishes,
…......................................Dear Mr. York,Thank you for teaching us the main points of Toastmasters. I really enjoyed improving my speaking skills. I think you did a great job! Say “no” to 'ums' and 'ahhs'!
.Dear Mr. York,
Thank you for taking your time to teach us how to speak clearly and professionally. I really enjoyed your time and so did all my other classmates. I hope that next year in middle school we can have Toastmasters again. I learned a lot inToastmasters.
Dear My York
,Thank you for teaching us how to do public speaking. I had a great time. I hope you did too. I think Toastmasters has helped me in the way I speak. It was pretty fun to write all of those speeches and table topic questions.
Mr. York,
I really liked Toastmasters. Every week was very exciting. I felt like I could express myself with words and props when I shared. I got suggestions every week to help fix my speeches and I came back with better ones each week. I'm so happy I did Toastmasters class.
 Thank you.
…...................................Mr. York,Thank you for teaching me about Toastmasters. The one thing I really learned about was how to write a good speech, speak loud and strong, and not to say 'um' and 'uh' as much. 
Thank you Mr. York.
To a awesome mentor,Thank you for making us all better speakers. I enjoyed making all of my speeches; from my “All about Me” to my “ Persuasive”. I also enjoyed evaluating speeches and answering Table Topics. I loved talking about the X-Factor.
Dear Mr. York,Thank you so much for coming to our classroom! I learned a lot and I have not said 'uh' or 'um' in a long time. I really enjoyed having you as a guest teacher! You really taught me how to stretch out my speaking.
Dear Mr. York,
You helped me so much with speeches and talking in public! You made me a better person. I really think you are a hilarious person. Thank you for taking your free time and teaching us about Toastmasters. Thank you so much.
Your friend,
.Mr. York,I have learned a lot in Toastmasters. Without you I would still have my stage fright. But you helped me through it. You probably are the most funny and knowledgeable Toastmaster I have ever meet.
Your Friend,
Mr. York,I thank you for helping me with “public speaking”. I really needed help because I'm shy when it comes to standing in front of a group and giving a speech. But made speaking fun and easy. I will keep practicing and I will become a great speaker. Thank you for everything you have done. Go Giants!
Hey Mr. York,Thanks for being so funny while you were with us. And thanks for teaching us how to give speeches so well. If you are for the Giants, I have to disagree, Go Patriots! I like it when you come because you make gifted more fun!
Thank You,
.Mr. York,Toastmasters is awesome and you're awesome. Thank you for teaching us about speeches and table topics. You taught me a lot of weird facts about random things. Thank you for all you taught us.
Dear Mr. York,
Thank you so much for teaching us to write speeches, be a respectful audience, and write unique questions. You are an inspiring person who has a big sense of humor. I love how that “Yoooo” because it sounds like a mixture of 'booing and saying 'yo what's up'. I hope you have a good rest of the year.
Dear Mr. York,
Thank you very much! You were always happy and you had good stories to tell. You taught us about giving speeches and having eye-contact. You helped us by giving us good techniques. Thank you very much!
Best Wishes!

Mr. York,
Thanks for being our Toastmaster mentor. I had lots of fun sharing speeches with the class. I also learned a lot and now I am way more comfortable writing and sharing speeches.
Mr. York
By: Lauren B.

I love Toastmasters thanks to one special person. Mr. York. Over the past several weeks, our class has had the honor of the mentoring of Mr. York Somerville in Toastmasters youth leadership program. Mr. York as we called him, always came to our class with a positive attitude. It was almost like he enjoyed working with us! :) Something not many people would do. Mr. York taught us many things; like organization, organizing our speeches, being good listeners, voice project, and use of gestures. We learned how to give and receive constructive criticism through our evaluation guide. Most importantly, he taught us speaking in front of people is not our number one fear, number two being death according to many studies. At this time we would like to show our appreciation of Mr. York with a few memorable gifts. Mr. York please join me at the lectern. First a shirt. You are now officially part of the Pasadena family!!!! Second, a stopwatch. That way you no longer need to endanger your fancy phone. And third, a photo album so you never forget us.. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said this about public speaking, “Be sincere, be brief, and be seated.” As will I.
These students are my American Idols, when they call you “ awesome, funny, a great teacher, exciting, hilarious, most funny and most knowledgeable Toastmaster, weird!
It swells your head.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Toolbox building


Break Down That Wall

As a 13 year Toastmaster ( World wide organization that teaches public speaking to adults ). Toastmasters has taught me the importance of learning the art of presenting, as a speaker and a teacher.

Recently I picked up this interesting little book 'The Art of Being Unmistakable" the author Srinivas Rao, writes:

"The future belongs to the misfits?

Perhaps it always has.
It seems fitting that I'm writing this at Burning Man, a strange and alternative pop-up city that had to venture into the middle of nowhere - an ancient lakebed in the Nevada desert, known as playa - to bring itself into being near the end of every August.
  Each time I come here, to this world of portapotties, alkaline dust storms, sweltering days, freezing nights, and no Starbucks - I swear to myself, this is the last freaking time.  And yet there's a point when something in me shifts over and I know I will return.  How could I not? "Welcome home," Burners say as we reunite with each other on the playa, and it's true.  Even if you've never been here before, the playa calls you home."

In the last line, on page 130 of 'The Art of Being Unmistakable", the author says" It's the opportunity for a performance where you leave your heart on the stage."

 What does the author mean?

So you've have read this powerful little book, it is everything you ever thought about?  It is the commonsense stuff your mother said, or your 4th grade teacher, said?

Then you think about leaving your heart on the big stage; everyone has their idea of what their big stage is.  What about the art of being unmistakable?  How do you get there?

Each week when I enter the classrooms for 1.5 hr sessions, I see the " opportunity for that performance, in those children "  They have that chance to be unmistakable.

Or maybe.....

  When you're running that  26.2 mile marathon, at 16 miles  you hit the wall and the lactic acid builds in your legs.  You think to yourself, a water stop! You walk, your legs burn, and you want to quit.  You down some Gatorade, grab some cookies (sugar, sugar) you want to quit, your legs say quit your brain says you trained and trained, it says no quitting!  The big stage is only 10.2 miles away, eke!  People along the way see and feel your pain, they know, because some  have experienced the big stage, they feel your pain. Some know about the big can change your life.

 Soon you will arrive at the big stage and it's just like returning to the playa. It even has portapotties,  this stage may have a Starbucks!  Your body is so tired,  but you have forgotten about the pain!  You have arrived - when you get it, it's so powerful!

Don't we all hit the wall?  Do you wonder what Albert Einstein's parents thought when at 9 years old his teacher said he would never amount to anything?  Do you wonder what he thought? What if that was your child?  What if it was you who wanted to break down the wall?  We know Albert Einstein's story, but how about the next kid, he may not have a 150+ IQ, he may not be smarter then those who put up the wall?

 When Ronald Reagan said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"  was it a different wall, not really, but in reality  it's the same wall that separates people from freedom.

Who builds the walls?  It could be you, me, educators, government, bosses or the kids in the school yard.  What if the wall was just in your mind?  Do you think Albert Einstein cared about the wall?  Why do people keep returning to the palya, maybe because they find some answers.  How to climb the wall? How to get to the big stage?

My mission Youth Speaking to America, is about breaking down walls.  It's about giving students the chance to become someone.  So exactly what is the big stage?  Is it inventing the iphone, scoring the touchdown that wins the Iron-bowl, or telling the world about The Theory of Relativity?  You decide.

Youth Speaking to America is about teaching how to open young minds not to ever believe that person who says you can't do that, you're not smart enough.  Remember if teaching children there is no wall, like Walt Disney said " if you can dream it, you can do it" you can.

 Everyone can reach the big stage.  Your stage may be American Idol, teaching children, breaking down barriers like Nelson Mandela,  building Amazon like ( Jeff Bezos ), or just being a good parent by teaching values.  Remember you don't have to be rich, just be real!

Personally, I don't remember being told this stuff. I did things the hard way, because I lacked the education.  The one thing I tell all the students, if you work hard, and be on time, someone will notice.  But if you build your own wall ( no education ) it's so much harder, I would know!

Every child deserves a head start; a head start to become a confident speaker and leader, or even be the exception like  10 year old intellect Dalton Sherman's, keynote speech

  So many will just never know unless you introduce them to a program like Youth Speaking to America.

 Toolbox; is a metaphor for the mind

Sunday, December 7, 2014



 The speech program consists of these parts:

  1.  The vision board
  2.  Extemporaneous / impromptu speaking - called Table Topics (T T) 
  3.  Two or three speeches - speech # 1 About me  see Building a Speech
  4.  Learning the art of speech evaluation
 Each student will receive the Youth Leadership Handbook

  • The goals of each meeting: A fun way for your children to learn public speaking.
  • Creating and learning how to answer those extemporaneous questions. 
  • Build speeches, present speeches and evaluate speeches.
  • Lots of emphasis on the use of filler words, such as like, and,so, also overcoming the use of hums & ah's.
  • The program is based on weekly participation. Becoming a good speaker is work and the more often the child speaks, the quicker their confidence will grow.
  • Experience growth with guest speakers, evaluations by experienced speakers, and continuing mentor-ship. 
  • At each meeting the children actively participate in evaluating each other. This will be a continuing program.
  • Our goal is to engage your child as much as possible. 
  •  Timing: each meeting will have an assigned timer 
  •  Table Topics: up to 1 minute. 
  •  Speeches: 2-3 minutes 
  •  Evaluations: up to 1 minute 

Location:  Hope Lutheran Church
 Address: 1801 62nd Ave N. St. Petersburg, Fl. 33702.
 Parking: behind building on 18th St. look for YSTA signs.
 Day: Wednesday 10-12pm
 Meeting time: depends on how many students. 10 - 12 pm
 Dates tentative: June 17 - 24 July 1 - 8 - 15 - 22 - 29 Aug. 5
 Graduation / Speech Contest --Aug. 6   families are invited
 Time: 5:30 - 8pm

See more:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day of Thank You

Please help celebrate the life of Dan Hopping. Dan was a huge influence on my life!I met Dan at St. Petersburg Toastmasters
 Thank You Dan!

Memorial Service for Danny Hopping
Saturday, December 6 at 10:30am
Gulf Coast Community Church in Saint Petersburg, Florida
Dear Friends and Family, We hope that you will join us in remembering and celebrating the life of our husband and father, Danny Hopping. Sincerely, Karen, Jeremy, and Ashley

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just thank you!

Page, is a young college student, giving his time to my Youth Speaking Program.

Thank you for your support of this program. This is a unique life adventure. It is amazing this adventure called Toastmasters it can take us in so many directions. But only if you choose it. Certainly one of the most important people ever, says things so clearly.

​Page, what the future holds no one knows, but you are in all the right places now.  This adventure life and Youth Leadership is amazing, grasp it and study Albert Einstein.​ 

This youth program does not happen without special teachers!  Cheryl Rice has provided us this opportunity, sadly without teachers like her this program rarely happens.  Possibly you can think back to age 10, did you have this YLP type of program?

Possibly you will take your time here with Toastmasters, your education, and the growth and pleasure you receive from these children, to reach another goal and become a great leader?

It took me so many years to realize my calling. What you learn at Toastmasters  will last a lifetime. The impact these children will have on your life will be amazing and the impact you will have even more amazing!

Is your calling teaching why public speaking is so valuable to children?
So many have found their calling, some are; Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Zig Ziglar and Cheryl Rice, to name a few. Just as I remember what Walt Disney said " If you can dream it, you can do  it."

I found my calling in 2003 by joining Tampa Toastmasters, thanks to Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), Sanford Sabel.

See what  the students say:


"I hear, I know.  I see, I remember.  I do, I understand."


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Take a trip to the future

Today we talk about the future, the children!  I will call it "A Trip to the Future". About six years ago, I designed some labels to go inside book covers. Then in some cases I would ask groups of students to read a book. Since they sat in rows in the class room, I picks the rows. They each had to read the book, and sign on the label "A Trip to the Future". Each group would then pick one person to deliver a speech on that book. At the end of each Youth Leadership Program, we would have a graduation/speech contest, where the families are invited. The students goal then deliver a speech on the book. The book

Pulling Weeds to Picking Stocks Paperback – August 5, 2008

  "Teen authors The Beatty Brothers offer an account of common financial insecurities in their inspirational how-to, Pulling Weeds to Picking Stocks. Heeding their parents advice, David, Devin, and Deric Beatty have spent their childhood and adolescent years pulling weeds for extra cash, preparing and presenting marketing strategies, picking stocks, and investing in their future. Pulling Weeds to Picking Stocks includes their easy-to-follow tips for being rich at fifteen, thirteen, and seven, such as budget worksheets, work ethics, asset liability evaluation, and tithing. No matter what age, you can follow these practical guidelines to make cents of the change in your life."  See the winner: 12 year old Chloe..

When I joined Toastmasters in 2003
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Our membership is 292,000 strong. These members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 14,350 clubs in 122 countries that make up our global network of meeting locations.)

 I had no idea how Toastmasters would impact my life.  When you realize what you can do as a teacher, leader, communicator, it becomes "A Trip to the Future"!

So many children since Chloe and that class of 2008, have touched my soul!  As I wrote in blog Break Down That Wall
"Remember you don't have to be rich, just be real!"

Friends, YSTA is about being innovative, being real! 

You may ask the question, are the children learning?  Read blog: The Kids Say Thank You and

Thank You

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why Create Youth Speaking to America

 My Story

I hope what drives me will impact you and help you not to make the same stupid mistakes I did!  As young people, we are not always interested in the thoughts and rules parents bestow upon us.  As you grow older you may understand what Mark Twain said “ When I was fourteen, I just could not believe how dumb my old man was;  but by the time I turned twenty-one, I was amazed how much he had learned.”
 Believe me I grew up not listening to my father; after all what did he know?  I will fast  track to age sixteen, when they threw me out of the ninth grade.  Why? because I was such a good student.
 There I was, no school, no job, and very little education.  Pretty cool, huh?
 Lets go back to age twelve.  I started delivering Newsday ( a Long Island newspaper ) on the waterfront of Freeport, N.Y.  No kid at twelve could have had a better learning experience.  I delivered to restaurants, bars, shipyards and some homes.  This is where I learned to become a salesman, a businessman.  In those days we made about $.08 a paper, big money, but the good money was selling papers at bars, great tips.  It's so hard to remember back then, but maybe I made about $12 bucks a week.  That's big money at twelve, back then!
 I became such a good salesman, I continually won trips ( selling newspaper subscriptions ), with other boys to places like Coney Island, and baseball games.  Coney Island was a fun place for kids, great wooden roller coasters, rides, games, a world famous amusement park.  Of course we had great baseball teams, like the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and the New York Yankees.  Many of the baseball greats played there.  If you liked baseball there was no greater baseball town.
 At fourteen I still had the newspaper route, and also washed dishes part time at a seafood restaurant.  In all I delivered newspapers for four years. Little did I know the impact these jobs would have on my life.  They taught me salesmanship, and work ethic, among many lessons.
 Back to sixteen, out of school, no job, no education, hanging out at the soda shop, how cool was I?  So cool, my father said it's time to pay rent, $25 a week.  Well sometimes you get lucky and I did, I met Bob Riley!  The owner of the soda shop told me the owner's son of the lawnmower shop nearby was looking for someone to mow lawns. Maybe one time hanging out at the soda shop paid off.  Bob Riley became my boss and my mentor, I owe him big time.  Thanks Bob!
 When you get the chance, get a mentor. A mentor can guide you and teach you.  It's worth more than words; it could be worth your life!  I know, and that's exactly why I created Youth Speaking to America ( YSTA ).
 The amazing story was Bob Riley was only eighteen, but mature beyond his years.  He taught me the Landscaping business.  Bob built a huge landscaping business, covering many of Long Islands plush estates, as I cut my teeth, Bob trained me to become a pro just like him.  He trained me well, as later I went on to win four City of St. Petersburg, City Beautification Awards,  Thanx Bob.
 Lets skip forward to 1988, after racing Motocross for over twenty years, I started riding mountain bikes, since I already had all the off-road skills, I just needed the endurance.   I learned quickly that I was much better at mountain biking than motocross. In 1990 my close friend Dave Robichaux and I decided to travel to Durango, Colorado to the first official World Mountain Bike Championships, and compete.
 Dave's skills as a bike builder and designer were unparalleled then.  Frankly, he never received credit for all the innovations in bicycles he inspired.  Dave built the first full suspension mountain bike, designed and built a time trial bicycle with aero tubing, years before anyone else.  All this in the middle to late 80's.  Dave's experience  at motocross and motorcycle road racing, along with bicycles, lead to his innovative bicycle ideas.  His welding was the best that could be done with a human hand. Dave was my hero.  He was a brilliant man and a free spirit. He died in a ultra-lite flying accident.
  On my way back from the World Mountain Bike Championships, I wondered why mountain biking was not successful in Florida?  It was not because there were no mountains, but because there were no promoters.  With over twenty years of motocross racing, I felt qualified to be a race promoter. So I spent the next 12 years promoting, mountain bike, off-road duathlons and triathlon events, while managing my landscaping business, promoting over 100 events.
  Well I built the largest State Mountain Bike Championship Series in the country, with over $30,000 in prizes each year, with the help of Dave and Terry Berger ( Gone Riding ).   

 In 2003 as a three month old Toastmaster I was invited to speak at The Great American Teach-in. This is a program held in Florida Public Schools every Oct.
For my one hour program at Alonzo High School, Tampa Fl. , I decided on a motivational talk.

 It was that 16 year boy sitting in the front row who caught my attention, he reminded me of that boy ( the class clown ) who was thrown out of school at 16! Flash back, the boy no one understood.

I knew exactly how to engage him in my program, as i did. That day I realized why I had become a Toastmaster; take my message DON’T QUIT SCHOOL to the youth of America.

My commonsense approach to teaching is from years of hard work, a lifetime as a entrepreneur, success and failure. Hundreds of Toastmaster meeting’s, contests and youth programs. Thousands of hours of listening and reading and speaking to help prepare them, our future, our children!
My commonsense approach to teaching, is to entertain, to challenge and even sometimes add some discipline.

That is exactly why Youth Speaking to America was born!