News Release: Wakulla Correctional Institution
Crawfordville, Florida – Most of our ideas about justice and public life come from Greece and Rome. The Roman orator Cicero once wrote that a republic is not just any collection of human beings united together; a republic is a group of people bound together by common interests and a shared concept of right, or justice.
Very few people work in isolation yet day after day we vanquish people from society forcing them to live on compounds of brick and reinforced rebar. In the past 25 years, our prison population has grown by 400 percent. Living in the land of the free, it turns out, is dangerous, and it is comparatively easy to lose the very freedom about which we boast.
What happened to the big plans I made for myself? Certainly this question has at one point or another crossed our minds, but questioning the worth of our life is not the right approach to take. The more important question to ask is: Now what?
One of the ways that society has found to boost self-esteem and enhance leadership is through Toastmasters clubs. Toastmasters clubs, in prison, Gavel clubs offer the vital skills that promote self-actualization, enhance leadership potential, foster human understanding, and contribute to the betterment of mankind.
The 32 men of the Higher Standards Gavel Club have reached the “now what” point. Each week these men assemble for two hours of “freedom” where they get to demonstrate their speaking and leadership skills. Part of the Toastmasters training is learning to accept criticism without resorting to violence. These men, all of whom had to “qualify” for membership by not getting into trouble or having issues with guards or inmates, know that a volunteer group like Toastmasters is ideal for adding skills and accomplishments to their portfolios.
Toastmasters is also a great way to show that you take initiative and are willing to work on your skills on our own time. The club experience also exposes you to a range of people unlike yourself, whether in background, job title, experience, age or other areas.
January 31, 2014 marks the one year anniversary of the forming of the Higher Standards Gavel Club at Wakulla Correctional Institution in Crawfordville, Florida. Though some of the faces have changed, the core values are still the same – Integrity, Dedication to Excellence, Service to the Member, and Respect for the Individual.
Brick walls - both figuratively and literally – are there to restrain people from reaching across boundaries/thresholds. But it’s obvious to see that the men of Higher Standards Gavel Club have become pretty adept at charging through brick walls, soaring to great heights. As Randy Pausch said in the last lecture, “…The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can get confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow Toastmasters International on Twitter@ Toastmasters.