2019 Teen Speakers in their own Words

Teen Speaker David shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


Politics: Why It’s Important

Politics. When someone talks about the new law that was passed, the tensions between countries or the debate that was on TV. Do you stop and listen? Or do you simply roll your eyes and walk away? Yes, politics can be boring, and many people think so but the truth is politics is important. They decide how a country is run like in an election. For example, if Hillary had won the 2016 election, the country would be run in a different way than it is now. Even your daily life is affected by politics. The way you get your medicine, your health care, the way you pay your taxes, and the education system for your children are all influenced by politics. It even solves conflicts. In 1907, there was a conflict between Japanese and Californians in California. There were many fights, and the Japanese government was angry. However, through negotiations, the crisis was averted. Another example of why politics is important, is how it can support people – like how the UN called for Yemen’s aid when half of its population were suffering from famine back in 2018. Politics can affect money like placing of tariffs on foreign goods. If you don’t care about politics, about the happenings in the world, how could you make a difference in the world? It’s good to be aware of the things around the world. In some cases, politics can be a topic of conversation when you are at a loss for words at a party. In conclusion, politics is important. They influence the world and how it works. They help and hurt people. They are at the core of government. This is why politics is worth knowing and I hope you do too. Thank you.


Teen Speaker Declan shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


Screams are heard, arguments too, to most this is chaos but to me it’s just Saturday. I am involved in a school club called “Speech and Debate.” Out of all my tournaments – one sticks out the most – it was grueling, it was taxing physically, mentally and even spiritually. It was challenging to not attack my teammate for eating my only snacks. That tournament had its ups and downs. I bonded with my fellow students. I had a blast at the competition. I did improve and yelled about a McEgg. Through speech and debate, I have made a lot of friends and I still talk to those people all the time. Speech and debate has allowed me to make friends from all over and to work on social skills. It has helped me in multiple ways which include improving my job interview skills and also with the ability to think off the top of my head – for example when I am asked a question that I wasn’t expecting. I have grown so much through Speech and Debate and my advice to you (dear listener) is to join the speech and debate team at your school.

Teen Speaker Shenne shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


Good morning! Some of you know that I’m from Russia. I was 13 years old when we moved and 13 is the age when I just got used to the environment. I had to leave my grandma, friends and my dog.

A week before the flight to the US, I Googled things – like “how to learn English in a week,” or “in an hour.” I was so stressed but I couldn’t do anything about it.

The first days here I hated everything. I guess I just wasn’t ready for these changes. My thoughts were only about how bad it was here; how I wanted to go back.

These thoughts were not right. I just couldn’t let go and it was my biggest mistake. I kept myself in the prison of the past.

Leave the past behind so you can focus on your future. That’s what I was told. And yeah! Focus on the good and move on!!

Then I realized I was lucky. Like really lucky. I realized I had an opportunity to start everything over. And that’s what I did. I had an opportunity to explore another country, to experiment and to learn new things.

My advice is: try to see good in everything. Without that, I would probably still hold on to my past  and I wouldn’t even find out that the people here are nice, and the food is actually better.

Everything happens for a reason. I look back and I see so many difficult events and circumstances…but they all led me to where I am now. And I am glad.

Teen Speaker Rania shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


Share Play Love

My childhood idol – one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Venus Williams once famously said, “If you don’t look good, you won’t play well.” As a 5 year old tennis player, these words had a huge impact on me and from that time on I always put a great deal of thought and care into my tennis outfits. When I was 9, I started playing competitively and by 11, I was fortunate enough to land a sponsorship deal with Adidas. One of the perks of this sponsorship was that I amassed a pretty big wardrobe in a short amount of time as I would receive the latest outfits each season. Fast forward a couple of years later, I was watching Tennis Channel, when they ran a segment on inner city tennis clinics for underprivileged children. While this was wonderful to see, I was struck by the fact that girls my age were wearing extremely baggy, oversized, one-size-fits-all T-shirts with the organizations name on the back. In fact, these T-shirts were so floppy it even seemed to interfere with their movements. Then this got me thinking of the words of Venus Williams, my own extensive wardrobe and the wardrobes of all of my tennis playing friends, who were all in similar situations (overflowing closets of tennis outfits). Then the idea of Share Play Love was born. Share Play Love is the name of my organization that I am currently setting up. Using my large network of friends and contacts in the tennis community throughout the nation and at various academies, we will send gently used outfits to underprivileged tennis playing girls nationwide. Also, along with each outfit, we will send a special, inspirational note, such as, “I wore this when I won my first tournament, and I hope this brings luck to you as well.” These messages will be signed “Love, SIS” which stands for sister-in-sport. Share Play Love, therefore, hopes to change the lives of underprivileged girls everywhere – one outfit at a time.

Teen Speaker Arnav shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


We were in Costa Rica for vacation when we struck up a conversation with the owner of the hotel in which we were staying. He told us a story about his hotel and how 30 years ago his father built the hotel and how he has observed the water encroaching on the hotel’s beach front – every year the sea level rises. Climate change is real no matter what some politician or celebrity says. We need to do something and fast. Ask yourself, do you want your family and friends and future generations to suffer a problem that we created. It is affecting us by the year, by the month, by the day, and by the second. How is it affecting us? Climate Change affects us because sea levels are rising every year. In a few decades a lot of seaside cities will go under water. As Climate Change affects plants and animals they are moving to cooler areas as temperatures rise. Heat waves and droughts will get worse which would be detrimental to a growing human population that will be nearing 8 or 9 billion people in the next few decades. As temperatures rise, hurricanes will become stronger – we’ve already seen devastating examples like Hurricane Katrina and there could be more like it. A lot of coral reefs are dying and getting bleached. Coral reefs are vital to many fish and other marine animals.

Well what can you or I do? We can reduce our carbon footprint by installing solar panels and using wind power (using more sustainable sources of energy). This is already happening in places like Denver, Colorado where it is written into law that every newly built house must install solar panels. You can also use bio-fuels instead of drawing electricity from coal or petroleum plants. We can recycle more and stop deforestation. We can take fewer trips in our cars and walk, bike or use public transportation.  This war is in our hands and we can chance the tide of this war. If we don’t take action now Climate Change will grow into a monster that we cannot control. Climate Change is a battle humanity will have to work together in order to win.

Teen Speaker Alex shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


Have any of you ever been to Qatar? Well, for the past year I have. My name is Alex Trick and let me take you on a trip to my 9th grade year in Qatar. Initially, I really didn’t want to go to Qatar. I would be leaving my dog, friends and house behind. I entered the country with a bad mindset of consistent failure. And to be honest, I was mostly wrong. I made friends quickly, and made better ones later. And a lot of the sights at first were beautiful with bright towering skyscrapers and sunsets over deserts and seas. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot better if I had kept an open mind. Qatar wasn’t perfect, far from it, it’s really beige and dull outside of major areas. You need a car to go anywhere, and it was really stressful on my mom. But its problems are not the point of this speech. The point is that my negative mindset limited my experience by not trying things, not learning new things, not asking questions for fear of failure or rejection. I really wish I had kept a more open mind. In the future, if we decide to go back to Qatar, which I kind of hope we do, I will be definitely be open to new experiences.

Teen Speaker Fatimah shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


By 2050, experts are saying there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than actual fish – 937 million tons of plastic and 895 million tons of fish.

The plastic in our oceans breakdown into smaller pieces when inside the water and end up being consumed by sea creatures with over 100,000 fish and sea mammals dying annually because of it. Not only are the chemicals in the plastics released into the water but also into our atmosphere.

A few days ago, I went walking with my grandma and my sister in highland park by the reservoir. Nature is so amazing with all the different colors giving such a beautiful aesthetic; the adorable ducks waddling by or flying from one side of the water to the other. But the water – I almost gagged at how disgusting it looked. There was garbage, plastic bottles, food and debris floating on top and gathered at the edges. I remember telling my grandma, “How beautiful the Earth is but it’s terrible how humans ruin and trash it.” It was reported on Feb. 26, 2014, hundreds of thousands of packets of cigarettes washed up on on a beach. And 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped in the ocean every year. If we continue this trend, it threatens aquatic life and this will affect human life as well.

Another startling report was recently in the news when a whale was found dead with over 13 pounds of plastic in its stomach. When I read that I was appalled and saddened that these animals have to suffer because of our actions. To help stop this destruction before it’s too late go to https://oceana.org/our-campaigns/plastics to learn how you can help!

Teen Speaker Nyeisha shares his I AM statement during Speak & Tell! Camp 2019


Immigration News

For more than a month now, the US government has been separating immigrant children from their parents as the border crisis continues.

It is going to be difficult to reconnect the children to their parents and families because the government did not diligently keep records of who the families are and where they were transported.

There is evidence that many of these children are living in horrible conditions in Border detentions such as, no soap or toothpaste and no showers. There have been some reports of children being abused and some who have even died.

This has been documented by many news outlets including The New York Times. The Customs and Border Protection Services is refusing donations of toothpaste, soap and other hygiene products. This was reported by the SLATE news organization.

The reporting also says many of these children are sick and they aren’t getting the medical attention they need. These children need better conditions. We should sign a petition to help them.

As Generation Z, we need to speak up about these injustices and take action.

Speak and Tell! Camp 2019 group of teen campers