Speak Up For Service Day is being established to recognize the importance of telling others about the need for young people to be actively involved in community service. Too often, good deeds of service by young people go unnoticed by their communities. This Speak Up For Service Day gives recognition to the unnoticed and serves as a reminder that people should tell others about the contributions of young people to their communities.
Sponsored by the Lions of North Dakota, the Speak Up For Service public speaking contest has become an annual event held in conjunction with the North Dakota State Lions Convention. Other Lions Clubs and Districts throughout North America sponsor similar public speaking contests where young people share their insight on issues of the day and the contributions of Lions to making the world a better place.
The history of the Speak Up For Service Project began in 2003 when the Fargo Lions Club initiated a public speaking contest for area high school students in honor of Laura Christensen Espejo, an woman who devoted her life to improving the health care services available to the less fortunate in the Fargo community and in Peru, the country of her husband Lucho. Lion Robert Littlefield coordinated the contest on the local level before launching it as a statewide initiative while serving as District Governor in 2010-2011.
In 2010, the first annual Lions Speak Up For Service public speaking contest was held at the North Dakota State Lions Convention held in Grand Forks. High school students who entered the competition spoke on topics related to young people and community service. Brent Johnson, a senior at Shanley High School was the first state winner of the Speak Up For Service contest. Johnson and the other contestants received scholarships for their participation in the event.