VOICE for Children and Youth
Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about YOUTH creating a better world! My company Stand Tall and Speak Out:VOICE for Children and Youth created international youth focused curriculum to inspire, train and empower youth so they can find their passion, succeed at it and build a better world. We also have National conferences in Philadelphia, Canada and South America. This Year's theme is Youth Getting Involved and Making Changes 2009! Below are some answers to questions you may have:
I am very excited and enthusiastic about the 2009 Stand Tall and Speak Out National conference which embodies a movement of hope, equality and civic responsibility because so many children, youth and even adults are abused, left behind, marginalized and treated differentially because of their culture, or their family’s economic and social status. People become hopeless and don’t believe they have a voice. I know this personally because for years I felt as if I did not have a voice. Finding my voice gave me confidence and allowed me to believe that I had talent and something positive to contribute to the society. This sense of confidence, purpose and inspiration is what I want Stand Tall and Speak Out to give to every student, every child and every youth. This 2009 National conference will inspire every participant and whom they ever connect with to get directly involved in the political process, whether it is helping during the election for trustee for their local school board, or getting an MP, Senator or President Elect, like Obama elected, re-elected or getting signatures on a petition for your cause during the Federal Leadership Race.
Youth become empowered through hearing the stories and challenges of other youth leaders and trouble shooting and coming up with solutions as a team. Youth will also have the opportinity to work with current and former entrepreneurs and politicians the many lessons and observations regarding the strategies that upwardly mobile people use to advance their careers and their communities.
They will also have a chance to connect their personal histories and experiences to that of the other participants and have the chance to talk about your story, to share something about another person's story and to learn about the story of someone who has made a difference for us all. Specifically, they will:
• Have the chance to learn, engage with and celebrate the many histories of people in Canada because the participants will be from various cultures and geographical areas.
• Practice interviewing, responding to and working with a multitude of people.
• Share stories and experiences with others in an engaging and safe environment.
Other keynote speakers will address the theme of excellence and encourage the youth to be the best in what they can be. She will cite examples of people who did not give up but overcame great challenges to reach their goals. The speech will add to the focus of the conference geared at helping youth to find their voice with courage in order to take action.
Finally, all participants will be given the tools to find the strength in their voice and become involved in their communities to effect change in our cities, provinces and country.
Participants will examine and reflect upon the issue of what to do when they see injustice, tragedy and lack of accountability in their city, province or country. What can these young people do individually? This conference will look at the process for
1) respectfully challenging a decision or a policy and
2) how to know when to use their voice,
3) how to speak up with respect so their voice is acknowledged
4) How to choose their words carefully because they are their strength
5) How to speak with confidence and mutual respect to achieve a “win win” situation of change.
If you were selected as one of the winners of this competition, how will the funds enable you and your initiative to grow?
I have attached some of the feedback forms from last years’ Stand Tall and Speak out Conference in Toronto where over two hundred attended. The students loved it and want to come back each and every year because each conference had a different theme. This is why I am hoping that the sponsorship monies will allow us to book even bigger venues each year and spread to more cities.Now I know that the content of the conference has substance, purpose and relevance to the children and youth. I know that it touched them very deeply and brought about some like altering initiatives and changes. I also feel that I am now a seasoned veteran in conferences and know how to organize one, get the right people behind me, and trouble shoot. I know that no one and nothing is perfect, but I try never to make the same mistakes twice. A toll free line will also help people connect and communicate with us.
What has been the impact of your initiative? Talk about its impact on others (your school, community, or organization, for example)
I have to honestly be humble and thank God for all of the work and opportunities I have been given, especially having just turned 14, because at first when I was given all of these ideas and so many demands seemed to be placed on me, I was like Moses, I did not really want to reach out and travel all of the time. However, the more I gave, the more I fell in love with public service and the more I wanted to do more work. I have traveled to over three countries now and spoken to over sixty thousand children and I don’t plan on stopping. Children and teachers email me all of the time and I work hard to be an authentic and visionary role model for them because they deserve that. I am asked to give advice on anti-bullying and children say that I touch their hearts, and give them hope that if I, a very imperfect inner city kid with a bad family situation could turn his life around, so can they, regardless of who they are, or what their circumstance is. My school has implemented anti-bullying and anti-racist policies, other child authors are popping up in my city, province and internationally with incredible stories and books. Children and youth send me stories from as far as Africa and Australia. Children and youth now believe that they can write books, express their feelings, public speaking and do everything.
That is what Stand Tall and Speak Out is about, it is about finding your voice and communicating respectfully about any injustice you see so that change can take place. My personal story of overcoming challenges gives hope and inspiration, but now this conference Stand Tall and Speak Out gives children and youth the 1) tools, 2) skills, 3) strategies and 4) processes to use their voices positively in order to make a difference for themselves and others. The Stand Tall and Speak Out conferences present a movement of hope, equality, and justice.
This year we also introduced the I'M RICH program, which has absolutely nothing to do with money, but is a mindset about how you live your life and positively affect the lives of others.
R stands for Respect for yourself and others
I for Integrity, Truth and careful choices
C for confidence in yourself and your ability to succeed
H for Hard Work, talent is not enough, be disciplined.
It was very rewarddng to see students everywhere wearing I'm RICH T-shirts, working hard for a better future, and believing they were rich regardless of their present circumstances.
Our additional company goals areL
a)Every child and youth to receive education
b) Every child and youth equal access to opportunities
c) Providing access to international community service trips because knowledge helps you grow and experience makes you wise.
c) Public Speaking, Model UN and Debating sessions because it is important to be able to express your ideas.
d) Our goal is to unite youth as leaders
e) We want increased publishing opportunities for children and youth
f) We want global networking
g) We want global marketing, communication and management opportunities for children and youth
h) We provide the education industry, including publishers and educators, with curriculum alignment a form of compliance reporting made necessary
i)We provide correlations for educational publishing companies
It is exciting to be the President of my own company at 14 years old, but what is even more exciting is that I am a typical and orginary teenager, who had an incredible family that supported my dreams. VOICE for children and youth wants to be that family to thousands of youth, whom we know have awesome ideas, potential, creativity and leadership skills. This is the second year for Stand Tall and Speak Out VOICE for Children and Youth. Thousands of youth have participated and thousands of youth have gone on to great things.
Literacy Can Change Lives was my very first project which starte in 2005 which is an International travelling workshop which allows low income, multi-cultural students, as well as ALL students, from all over the world achieve these GOALS:
1) To connect with one another and use their voices to share their stories and hear the stories of other students.
2) To be inspired by their potential and their future success within their educational system and country.
3) To encourage them to read and write and make good choices for their futures.
4) To learn good social and problem solving skills.
5) To become leaders and confident team players.
The focus of the workshop is to give inner city children of all racial and cultural backgrounds a shared experience and connection through providing a new way of looking at themselves, their histories, their voices, and their futures. Through James Valitchka who is a positive role model, author and speaker, children and youth ages 6 to 18 will be provided with dynamic and multiple opportunities to
1) See the potential of the positive expression of their stories, feelings and
2) Feel a sense of intensified identity and sense of belonging.
3) Realize and achieve the unique and valuable contribution they can make to society.
4) To understand that through determination, focus and positivism they can break through the barriers of abuse, poverty, and social challenges, thus creating their own successes within society.
These specific workshop goals will help to strengthen the fabric of your students, schools and society by inspiring students to read, write, and become leaders and role models of success.