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NRTA's 2011 Annual With Our Youth! Award Winners

INDIVIDUAL CATEGORY

California – Dr. Dina Stallings

"I am gifted! I am unique! I can do anything I really want to do, if I want to pay the price of hard work and build discipline!" Those are the words you hear from young students working with Dr. Dina Stallings, the ultimate inspirer of youth.

Fifteen years ago, Stallings founded the "Friends of Forensics" to reach students from kindergarten through college to help them find their voices and with their voices to make their own unique and gifted mark in society. Today she continues to be the untiring advisor and volunteer to keep the program going.

As director of the program, she helped put in place "The Listening Ears Project," The Intermediate School Speech Meet and The High School Speech Tournament. The "Listening Ears Project" brings volunteers into elementary school classrooms to hear students present a wide variety of speech projects, including skits, original essays and historical speeches. Volunteers present certificates for students' accomplishments and the teacher is presented with a certificate for encouraging youth and preparing them for their presentations.

The Intermediate School Speech Meet has students reading their original essays on topics ranging from "Save the Earth" to "My Hero." Monetary awards are given to the winners. High school students compete in areas of Persuasive Speeches, Informative and Interpretive Speeches, and Impromptu Speeches. Students participating in these activities come from six school districts. To fund the program in all these districts, Stallings holds a Friends of Forensics Art Auction.
 
Stallings has changed the lives of many in her community. She has used public speaking to foster a community of gifted, unique and empowered young leaders.

New Mexico – Doyle Foreman
 
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." ~ William E. Hickson. That's exactly what Doyle Foreman did to get a bill passed through the New Mexico legislature that would benefit current and future students in the Springer school district.

The Springer school district is the only one in New Mexico to have a school-owned scholarship fund. The district used the dividends of the fund to give two $500 scholarships each year. According to New Mexico law, however, public schools could only invest in local CDs.

After teaching for 20 years in the Springer school system, Foreman was elected to the school board. As a board member, Foreman believed that the money in the scholarship fund could get greater returns in a different type of investment rather than in the local CD. He convinced others on the board to support him and worked tirelessly to have a bill passed that would maximize the use of investments.

After three years, the legislature passed a law allowing funds to be invested in stocks and bonds. His intervention led to a total of $204,500 that has been awarded to graduating seniors with eight scholarships provided to students in 2011. Thanks to the forward thinking and vision of Doyle Foreman, the power of "investment in education" has a whole new meaning.

Oregon – Doug Trice

All children want to have fun and be included. Doug Trice understood that need when he developed a year-round athletic program for special needs youth. Because of his program, kids are able to find their athletic niche and reach new heights while enjoying themselves and being part of a team.

Trice shaped an athletic program that started locally in Oregon and moved to several states in the South and West. The program allows children with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports, including bowling, golf, swimming, gymnastics, track, soccer, tennis, basketball and winter sports such as downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding.

Even while holding a full-time job, Doug volunteers more than 25 hours per month managing 15 volunteers and 50 athletes. Some of the his tasks include overseeing certification of personnel, conducting leader orientations and training sessions, recruiting volunteers and coaching. In addition, he personally donated $5,000 and has raised $8,000 for the program through various fundraisers.

Doug Trice sees the potential in all children. With the skills, passion and intuitive nature of a hands-on coach, he has shaped a program where special athletes can train, compete and, most important, be included.

 

INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH AWARD


INDIVIDUAL CATEGORY

Kansas – Col. Gary LaGrange

"Find a need and fill it." ~ Ruth Stafford Peale. Col. Gary LaGrange did just that after he finished serving in the military and created a program to equip children and teachers with necessary school supplies abroad. He saw that the opportunity to create change can be local and have global ramifications.

While serving in war-torn Afghanistan, where there were very few schools, LaGrange was impacted by the words of a young village girl — "If you would help us learn, you would give us hope." LaGrange remembered those words when he retired and decided to make a difference in the lives of children in an area ravaged by war. In 2008, with the support of Kansas then-governor Kathleen Sebelius, LaGrange launched the Help Us Learn…Give Us Hope program. This program collects school supplies at 17 Kansas National Guard armories and ships them to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Djibouti, who then distribute them to local children and teachers.

LaGrange has partnered with various businesses, service organizations, schools and retirement homes to assist with the collections, packing and shipments as well as funding. He also ensures that the children of Kansas give back as they are directly engaged in the project by collecting used and new supplies. Since the project started, 489,000 children have received 700,000 pounds of school supplies and 800,000 books have been delivered to 15,000 schools. More than 10,000 teachers have received supplies and 50 English language libraries have been started at universities. All the work is done by volunteers and LaGrange himself averages about 210 volunteer hours per month organizing pick-ups and collections and speaking to groups to raise money. 

Words have power. It was the power of a few words spoken by a young girl that made LaGrange react and change the course of these children's lives forever. Since retiring, Col. LaGrange has made the transition from soldier to education advocate.

 

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