ST. ANTHONY, NL – Jared Hicks, a Grade 12 student at White Hills Academy, is the St. Anthony and Area Lions Club Speak Out champion.
Hicks delivered his winning speech at the St. Anthony and Area Lions Club March 1.
There were two participants in the speak out this year. Hicks was challenged by Hannah Bromley, a fellow Grade 12 student at White Hills.
Hicks’ winning speech addressed how to combat an obesity epidemic in Newfoundland and Labrador. Bromley’s speech discussed the impact of communication technologies on young people.
They were both challenged by two questioners after their speeches concluded, and a panel of four judges deliberated over who would take home the top prize and qualify for the zone championship.
Hicks told the Northern Pen he chose this subject because obesity has become a concern for him in the St. Anthony area.
“Recently I’ve really started getting into going to the gym, and I work at the local grocery store and you see a lot of people come through,” he explained. “And I’ve really started to notice it’s a rising issue in our area.”
Hicks says he started to prepare his speech earlier that week and spent some time researching the statistics.
He notes that obesity is a particularly troubling issue in the province as Newfoundland and Labrador has the second-highest obesity rate of any province and territory in Canada.
Hicks practiced his speech and revised it numerous times over the course of the week and made sure to time it so it was within the required four- to five-minute range.
He also thanked his parents for listening and giving advice where needed.
Cyril Simmonds, zone chair for region N3, was disappointed at the low participation in the speak out this year.
Approximately six students signed up for the speak out initially, but a number of them had to back out, leaving two participants.
Simmonds says so far none of the other eight clubs in the zone, from the Twin Town (Port au Choix/Port Saunders) to Mary’s Harbour, have been able to get enough students to hold speak outs this year.
He’s currently waiting to hear whether Flower’s Cove and Anchor Point will host their events this year.
Simmonds says they’re always thinking of new ways to get more young people interested in public speaking. He hopes the schools will start doing more to encourage students to participate, suggesting that the event could become part of their curriculum.
“You can bring a horse to the well but you can’t make it drink, you can’t force them to do it,” he said. “Unless they put it apart of the curriculum, they wouldn’t have any choice but to participate.
“But outside of that, all we can do is put the word out there and hope they will participate.”
The zone event is scheduled for March 18 in Anchor Point. If there are no other participants, Hicks will automatically go onto the District N3 speak out April 20-22 in Stephenville.
If he goes directly to Stephenville, Hicks says he’s looking forward to it.
“Hopefully I’ll get to make some connections,” he said. “And really spread the word about my topic.”