Here’s how one Central Florida organization is helping students find their voice

12-week program is free for middle, high school students

ORLANDO, Fla. – A local organization is helping students find their voice. Route 7 is a member-based, nonprofit organization of men.

“It’s being very intentional and coming to an environment where we are able to share in an ego-less environment and help each other grow,” said Route 7 President Gene Martin.

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Martin says the group is launching the “Well Said” program at the Levy Hughes Boys and Girls Club this week. The 12-week program is free and is for middle and high school students. The program’s founder, Aquanza Cadagon, is a creative and community activist. He said he saw a need after getting involved with a Toastmaster’s club.

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“I would help at oration contests and help some of the young people get prepared for the contests. And after I’d finish, a lot of the parents would come up to me and say, ‘How can I get my children involved in what you do? I’d love my children to be more versed in speaking,’” Cadagon said. “So for me, it was all about, let’s start now by giving these young people the opportunity we may not have had. And just giving them the opportunity to do whatever they want when they have those skills we all wish we had because public speaking is everyone’s number one fear and we’re going to get that fear out of those kids early and just make them really confident.”

Cadagon says they chose to make the program 12 weeks because it takes about three months to create or break a habit. He says the program will focus on body language, memorization and vocal variety.

“We’ve learned those are skill sets they need when they walk into a room for a job interview, or if they’re trying to advance in certain classes in school,” he said. “Communication is a skill that you will use no matter how old you get or what device you use it on, no matter if you’re doing it in person or virtually. Communication is key, it’s like riding a bike, once you learn how to do it correctly, you will know how to do it forever.”

Martin says because Route 7 is a nonprofit, they are looking for donations of books, pens and pencils. He says they also would love food sponsors to help feed the students and volunteers.

The students will give speeches in a showcase coming up in November. Right now, “Well Said” is only offered at the Levy Hughes Boys and Girls Club, but the men said they hope to expand to other schools.

To learn more about how to become a volunteer, mentor or sponsor, click here.


About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.