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Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words

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  • by Jock Mackenzie

    Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. It’s number 26 on an Internet list of the world’s greatest fears. At Number 13 is Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. The top five on this particular list are fear of: spiders, snakes, heights, open and/or crowded spaces and, a surprise to this canine fan, dogs.

    Most of us can avoid the worst fears, but it’s almost impossible to avoid communicating with others. One answer: Toastmasters International

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    Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organization, has been in the communication business since 1924. Red Deer’s Sunrise Toastmasters (Tuesday mornings at 7:00 a.m.) was founded in 1986. Kitowin Toastmasters (1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and a dinner meeting on the fourth Thursday) began even earlier – 1974. The need for communication and leadership has seen more Central Alberta clubs form; there are clubs in Innisfail, Sylvan Lake and Stettler

    Who attends? Adults over eighteen. Most Toastmasters are trying to improve their ability to speak, to get their ideas out in a logical, understandable fashion. Some first come because they have an upcoming event where a speech is required:  business presentation, class, wedding, or funeral. Others attend because they know that speaking is not their strong point and have decided to do something about it. 

    How long do they stay? It’s an interesting mix. Some men and women stay only as long as it takes them to improve to the point where they feel more comfortable with their communication skills. Others stay a medium term; some are “lifers.” Once in a Toastmaster club, it’s soon evident that the mutual fear of public speaking creates a bond. Toastmasters are amazingly supportive of fellow members – and a strong relationship is created. Personal experience has shown there is no better place to find encouragement, empathy and assistance. 

    What happens at a meeting? Everybody has a chance to speak! An overview of a typical meeting includes two speeches from a manual of 10 general topics (an Icebreaker about yourself, getting to the point, vocal variety, research, etc.), evaluations of the speeches, a toast, a joke, table topics (members are given a topic – no time to prepare – and a two-minute time to speak), reports from the meeting’s grammarian (who notes ums, ahs and grammatical errors), the timer (who uses a green, amber and red light to keep speakers on time) and the general evaluator (who gives an overall assessment the meeting). There’s even a short coffee and treat break.  

    Is Toastmasters for you? It is for over 350,000 people in 141 countries around the world. Is a degree of structure important? Two manuals, Competent Communicator and Competent Leader, provide a path through a carefully time-tested series of speeches and leadership opportunities. The basic structure is provided but there’s ample room for making all of the interactions specific and personal. Gradually being unveiled across the Toastmasters world is a new program called Pathways that promises an even more member-centred approach. 

    Guests are always welcome.  Click on the individual links to get more information.

    Kitowan Toastmaster, Sunrise Rotary ClubInnisfail, Sylvan Lake and Stettler.


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    One grade 7 class raises over $2,500 for Child Advocacy Centre

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  • Miss. G’s 7-5 class from St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School completed their Almsgiving Bake Sale Thursday with a total amount of $2736 raised for the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre!

    They were so excited to share their news of how much they raised since starting back in March!  Every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday through out lent, the 7-5’s would bring in treats that they made at home.  They sold the goodies to the rest of the student body at lunch to help raise funds to donate to the Centre.

    Thank you to Miss Goranson for putting this all on for the CACAC, and to the 7-5 class for being apart of this and wanting to help other kiddos – you are amazing!


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    Celebrity Dancer Alex Wood mistaken for 2nd pro on the floor!

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  • As co-owner of Ryde RD Spin Cycling, Alex Wood may have had a slight athletic advantage over even the most physically fit celebrities in the 2019 Celebrity Dance Off.  Wood also trained as a dancer when she was growing up.  Did all that pay off?  Well some of the judges and many of the spectators were under the impression their might be two pros on the floor when Wood and pro partner Peter Samoila performed.  Check out this fast and flawless salsa / cha cha mix.  Amazing doesn’t do it justice!

    My Story…

    I grew up here in Red Deer, this is home. It took me a while to return after high school but I am so happy to be back. I co-own Ryde RD Spin Studio. Red Deer was the perfect place for my husband Dave and I to start our business.

    I studied at Montana Tech and graduated as a petroleum engineer. I met my husband there and we made our way to Calgary for work. After two and half years, I decided that a desk job wasn’t for me so we packed our bags, moved to Asia and travelled overseas. After too much fun in the sun, we decided to move to Red Deer to start Ryde.

    Supporting our clients and the community is very important to us. We’ve hosted many charity Ryde’s including one for the Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off.

    Over the next few months, I’ll be putting my travel bug on hold, trading my spin shoes in for dancing shoes, and trying to regain my dancing skills from my teenage years. I’m honored to be a part of this event and passionate about the cause.


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