FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Most people don’t like to speak in front of an audience.

TeenSpeak 2020 featured 11 area teens who shared their stories of strength in front of 150 people – with no prize.

Why volunteer?

“There’s no reward,” says Emily Eshbach, a junior at DeKalb High School. “It’s just challenging yourself to see how you overcome. That’s reward enough for me.”

TeenSpeak is a collaboration between two non-profit groups that work with area youth: The RespectTeam and The Brandon Foundation.

“TeenSpeak is an opportunity for our local middle school and high school students to feel empowered to speak up and to speak out, explains Amy Hanna, director at RespectTeam. “Really it’s about leadership skills and empowering them to find their voice.”

Since January, the teens have worked with local public speakers to learn the craft. This year’s theme is “Stories of Strength.”

“We have a lot of students here locally who have the story of resilience and strength,” says Caty Smith, director at the Brandon Foundation. “So the vision of this event is for students to share that message that no matter if you get knocked down that you can get back up and not only can you get back up, but you can get back up stronger.”

The organizers hope to double the speakers next year. Follow to learn more about the 2021 plans.