One of our goals in CALL each semester is to go outside of the walls of the lab and share our services with the community at large. Sharing our knowledge on public speaking allows us to see how theories play out in everyday life.
Last semester we had the opportunity to work with over 1,500 middle school kids on their public speaking skills through the Be a Leader foundation. Building on that success, undergraduate mentor Kesha Rush and I left the books behind and hit the streets, ready to see theory in action.
We visited Scottsdale Prevention Institute’s Centro de la Familia, where we worked with a group of 14-18 year olds who call themselves Youth in Action. This group’s focus is to reduce the consumption of alcohol by minors in their community through education, leadership training, and community outreach.
Our workshop focused on how to reduce their public speaking anxiety and how to look professional when delivering a speech. The purpose of our visit was to make them comfortable with public speaking, as their next project will require them to reach out to hundreds of businesses around Scottsdale in order to convince them to display stickers discouraging underage drinking. The teens were very receptive to our presentation. They were engaged through the entire workshop, asking several questions with the interest of becoming outstanding public speakers.
Reaching out to the community allows us to stay grounded in the work that we do. This workshop, along with others, gives us the opportunity to see communication as a tool for social change. As a graduate student in the MACS program, and as an advocate, I found this to be a great way to use my knowledge to benefit others. It is through our words and with our actions that we can become catalyst for positive social change in our communities.
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