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Youth Gain Voices Through Students' Public Speaking Campaign

Three juniors at Amador Valley High School have started a campaign that aims towards giving students the skills to strengthen their public speaking.

Three Amador Valley High School students are giving community youth a voice through their public speaking campaign.

Juniors Melody Huang, Alice Deng, and Shilpa Krish founded "RSVP" — an acronym for repertoire, speech, voice, and presentation. These make up what the campaign focuses on when it comes to strengthening kids' public speaking skills. They came up with the idea last school year and coordinated with the Pleasanton and San Leandro Libraries to host classes there over the summer.

After gaining public speaking experience from their high school's DECA Chapter, a national business organization targeted towards high school students, they were inspired to start their own campaign to help others.

"We know that speech deliverance often causes a lot of anxiety and stress, and having been through that phase ourselves, we wanted to change that for our youth," Huang said.

To go along with their motto and logo "Just Say It!" they wanted students to come out being more assertive in stating their opinions in front of an audience. 

Aside from founding the campaign, the three are executive directors who work as expansion coordinators, operations managers, and marketing coordinators.

Nearly a dozen other instructors and interns help with the campaign at both the pleasanton and San Leandro locations. Huang hopes to expand the campaign to other cities like Hayward, San Ramon, Castro Valley, and Fremont. They already receive participants from neighboring cities like Dublin and Livermore. Her dream is to take it statewide and beyond.

According to Huang, the number of students that attend varies depending on the classes, but on average they get about 20 to 30 students.

Instructors are available to provide students of different ages one-on-one attention to assess their abilities and provide feedback. Huang said students receive impromptu speeches — normally a few paragraphs long — which they then practice reading in a few minutes prior to giving a semi-formal presentation.

A variety of games like charades, staring contests, and "guessing the voice," also help students by targetting specific areas of public speaking such as gestures, eye contact and voice.

"These tend to be a challenge for them, and urge them to think on their feet," Huang said.

Overall, the campaign has been proving to be a success. Huang said she finds that the most rewarding part of the campaign is to see students' improvements and enthusiasm during each lesson.

"We love interacting and making friends with the new members, but we also love seeing old clients. We are very happy to know that we've helped to make a difference in our society and helped build confidence in our youngest generation," she said.

To learn more about the RSVP campaign and how you can participate, contact Melody Huang at melodyhuang2007@gmail.com.

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