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February is for Toastmasters in Parksville

The City of Parksville has proclaimed February as Toastmasters Month. On hand for the proclamation ceremony Thursday, clockwise from bottom left, were David Gooden, a founding member of the local club, Kristen Nickels, president of Arbutus Toastmasters, Coun. Al Greir, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, Mayor Chris Burger and Kirk Walper, past president of Arbutus Toastmasters. - JOHN HARDING PHOTO
The City of Parksville has proclaimed February as Toastmasters Month. On hand for the proclamation ceremony Thursday, clockwise from bottom left, were David Gooden, a founding member of the local club, Kristen Nickels, president of Arbutus Toastmasters, Coun. Al Greir, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, Mayor Chris Burger and Kirk Walper, past president of Arbutus Toastmasters.
— image credit: JOHN HARDING PHOTO

More than death, public speaking has often been cited as the number one fear of humans.

The local Toastmasters club president says her group can provide life-changing experiences for people trying to overcome that fear. On Thursday, Mayor Chris Burger proclaimed February as Toastmasters Month in Parksville.

"One of the main reasons people join is to overcome a fear and what they find is a warm, safe environment to do that," said Arbutus Toastmasters president Kristen Nickells. "It's a really safe place to fail and people overcome their fears and they change their lives."

Arbutus Toastmasters club welcomes everyone to its third annual soapbox forum, 'So you think you can speak' set for Feb. 3 at 6:45pm at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.

"Our soapbox event drew 60 people last year, so we're encouraging soapbox speakers and guests to come early," said the local club's past president Kirk Walper.

Some facts about Toastmasters, both locally and worldwide:

•  Arbutus Toastmasters was founded in 1994 by Parksville's David Gooden.

• This year is Toastmasters International 90th anniversary. The first club meeting was held in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Ana, California on October 21, 1924. From one club, the international organization, headquartered in California, has grown to 14,350 clubs with over a quarter-million members in 122 countries.

• Toastmasters is a non-profit educational society that teaches public speaking and leadership skills; members assist each other through Toastmasters self-paced learning projects and positive speakers' tips.

• Toastmasters in British Columbia is one of the largest Toastmasters districts in the world. It has grown so much that in 2014 a new district will be added to make room for a growing membership in the province.

• Arbutus Toastmasters Club says it is a dynamic club, receiving numerous awards from Toastmasters International including President's Distinguished Club.

• Since 1994, the Arbutus club says 200 local people have experienced life-changing effects of Toastmasters speaking and leadership programs including two civic politicians, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Parksville city councillor Peter Morrison.

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