FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow Hosts Their 16th Annual Debate Day
Event Marks Growth of Individuals in OBT’s Out of School Youth Program
Brooklyn, NY – On Thursday, January 15, 2015, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT) held their 16th semiannual debate day at Brooklyn College. This year, trainees participated from all four of OBT’s youth sites across the city including Sunset Park and Bushwick in Brooklyn, Jamaica, Queens and Mott Haven, Bronx. The debate day was the result of 16 weeks of intense preparation by trainees in their Public Speaking and Communications classes and represents enormous achievement and individual growth over the past four months.
Trainees started off the morning by presenting persuasive speeches on topics of their choice that included cyber bulling, the impact of television on children, gangs, body size, women fighting in combat, the importance of zoos, young mothers, the experience of Muslims living in America, accents, music education in public schools, and stem cells. While some speeches drew tears from the audience and others laughs, all speeches were well researched and presented – a huge step toward boosting each young adult’s self confidence. For many, this was their first experience speaking in public, a skill that will help them to achieve their goals in the workforce as well as equip them to be active members in their communities. Chief Executive Officer, Randy Peers acknowledged the importance of this event stating, “Debate Day is a signature event of OBT and part of what sets us apart from other youth workforce development agencies. It goes miles towards building their self confidence and unlocks potential they never knew they had.”
Afterwards, debate teams from Sunset Park and Bushwick/Jamaica engaged in a mock trial using the civil case, “Jamie R. Killian v. R.A.G.E. Enterprises and Chris Schultz” with the Sunset Park team arguing on behalf of the Plaintiff and the Bushwick and Jamaica team on behalf of the defendant. While each team made excellent points, the jury including Deputy Superintendent of District 79 Robert Zweig and Alternative Schools and Programs Borough Principal of Brooklyn and Staten Island Michelle Robinson sided with the defendant. OBT Board Member Vincent Chirico, a Principal at Chirico Law PLLC who served as the judge, applauded the level of debate by the trainees, “After 20 years of [being a lawyer,] I could go into a courtroom and not find better advocates”
Initially founded by Public Speaking and Communications teacher Anthony Magnotti and CEO Randy Peers, Debate Day has become an OBT tradition due to the lasting lessons trainees take with them even after graduation from the program. Raekwaun Bryant, a current trainee from the Bushwick site said, “Debate day has taught me is that it’s 90% preparation and 10% perspiration. If you work hard and prepare yourself in advance to be successful, you can achieve great things.”
For more information about Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow and its programs please go to their website at www.obtjobs.org.
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