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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Youth Voices, mastering the art of public speaking


Public speaking is what makes people’s blood go cold, their legs go shaky, their vision go blurry. Out of all the many terrifying things in this world, talking to a crowd is oftentimes what makes someone have nightmares. But the ability to communicate and express oneself is crucial, and the younger one overcomes their fears of public speaking, the better.

Youth Voices is a student-run nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students master the art of public speaking. Their students range from complete beginners to people who’ve been debating or competing for years.

As a coach and graduate of the organization, I can personally attest to how much Youth Voices has helped me find my voice and confidence as a public speaker. Youth Voices is based locally in Naperville and is directed by students who attend Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools. The current president of Youth Voices, Naperville North graduate Zach Wu, was the 2022 and 2023 Harvard National Forensics Tournament Congressional Debate Champion as well as the 2023 Tournament of Champions Runner-Up.

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Youth Voices also regularly involves itself in the community.

Emilie Fann, a sophomore at Naperville North and a Youth Voices coach said, “Our goal is to give youth an outlet to express themselves, by developing critical analysis skills, leadership, cultural awareness, community service, and political engagement.”

Last summer, Youth Voices hosted a free 10-day public speaking summer camp in partnership with the Aurora Alive Center. This fall, Youth Voices continues to provide free biweekly online classes for students of all ages.

Creighton Getting, a junior at Naperville Central and coach at Youth Voices adds, “We’re just a group of students trying to make a difference. Speech and debate has transformed my life, and we just want to help as many other people as possible enjoy those same benefits.”

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Hannah Leong
Hannah Leong
Hannah Leong is a student in School District 203. In addition to writing, she enjoys badminton.


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