Highlights from The Practice Space Legacy Dinner

It's been a little over a month since we held the remarkable Practice Space Legacy Dinner, planned and hosted by our incredible Junior Board of Directors. This event, held on May 18, 2024, was a magnificent celebration that brought together the diverse and vibrant community that makes up The Practice Space. From performances and activity demonstrations to panels showcasing our organization's impact, the evening was a testament to the power of youth voice and community.  

The Legacy Dinner was more than just an event; it was a celebration of The Practice Space’s seventh birthday, marking a significant milestone in our journey. The evening was filled with heartfelt reflections, inspiring speeches, and moments that highlighted the essence of our mission—to create spaces where everyone feels a sense of belonging and can express themselves.

Reflecting on our Legacy

Our founder, AnnMarie, kicked off the evening with a moving speech that took us through the various “generations” of The Practice Space:

Generation 1: The Early Days 

Initially, our programs focused on helping individuals through clubs, events, and the Expressive Leaders Program. This phase was all about bringing people together to share our vision and lay the foundation for what The Practice Space would become.

Generation 2: The Pandemic Era
When the pandemic hit, we had to adapt quickly. In the summer of 2020, we held our first online debate camps, which saw our participation numbers triple. Many participants joined, stating, "I don’t like public speaking. I would rather be playing baseball, but I can’t play baseball right now, so I guess I’m going to do debate." This era saw us grow from serving 250 people in a few schools to reaching over 1000 individuals during the pandemic.

Generation 3: Post-Pandemic Growth
Post-pandemic, we leaned into schools and workplaces to elevate underrepresented voices where they are most needed. We expanded our reach, working with over 3000 people across 20 schools and partnering with 20-25 nonprofits and companies annually to help adults with their voices.

Generation 4: Future Expansion
As we enter Generation 4, we are excited to release our strategic plan to move our work into even more schools during the school day, creating hubs where people can build their communication skills. We will continue our after-school programs and create events that engage families and entire school communities.

Showcasing the Speaker’s Journey

The Legacy Dinner featured a curated list of youth speakers who shared their journeys towards becoming authentic speakers. The evening included speeches, spoken word poetry, and discussions on the implications of debate and the importance of having a space to practice one's voice. A slideshow down memory lane and group story discussions helped the community connect more deeply.

The themes explored through the evening’s speakers included:

Discovery and Exploration:
Understanding speaking goes beyond words; it's about authentic connection and expression. Exploring diverse perspectives broadens horizons and fosters empathy. Finding one's unique voice by exploring personal values and passions leads to purposeful communication.

Building Confidence:
Embracing new challenges builds confidence, transforming fears into strengths through growth and resilience. Consistent practice hones public speaking skills, turning uncertainty into confidence. Empowering others fosters a supportive community that encourages shared success.

Applications to Life:
Applying these skills in daily life enhances everyday interactions, improving connection, persuasion, and leadership. Advocacy and continuous learning keep voices dynamic and effective, ensuring they remain relevant and impactful in an ever-evolving world.

Recognizing Community Leaders

The evening also included the presentation of two prestigious awards:

Community Champion Award: Mary-Ann Lafosse
The Community Champion Award was presented to educator and school district administrator Mary-Ann Lafosse. This award recognizes her exceptional contributions through volunteer service, thought leadership, and partnership, always ready to assist with events, district connections, or program opportunities.

Youth Leadership Award: Mistura Bankole
The Youth Leadership Award was presented to Mistura Bankole, a young leader between the ages of 12 and 25. Mistura has shown exceptional commitment to fostering youth voice, participating in nearly all our programs as both a coach and participant, and has grown tremendously as a leader who uses her voice for good.

The Road Ahead

The Legacy Dinner was a beautiful celebration of our journey and a powerful reminder of the importance of community and self-expression. We are honored to have such a dedicated and passionate community and look forward to many more years of growth and impact.

Looking to the future, we are filled with excitement and anticipation. The Legacy Dinner celebrated our past achievements and launched our future endeavors. We are committed to expanding our reach, creating more opportunities for youth and adults to find their voices, and fostering a sense of community and belonging.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made the night unforgettable. Your support makes our work possible, and we are grateful for your continued commitment to The Practice Space.

Stay tuned for updates as we continue to grow and evolve. We have exciting plans for the future, and we can't wait to share them with you. Together, we are working towards a world where diverse communities feel cared for, free from stereotypes, and capable of using their voices to forge meaningful connections.

Thank you for celebrating with us, and here's to the exciting road ahead!

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