Teens learn communication skills in Orange County program

MISSION VIEJO, Calif.

"The intent was to get them away from texting and back to basic oral and written communication skills that they're not learning formally in the schools," said Lori Kelman, the founder of ETC.

The eight-week program is aimed at 12- to 18-year-olds and has been offered for free since January in partnership with city of Mission Viejo.

The program founder is a former radio reporter who is teaching students a range of skills, from resume writing to marketing themselves.

"I got a lot of things out of it, most importantly was public speaking," said student Zachary Yee. "I have a lot of presentations in my English and Spanish class. Those are much easier because of this program."

The program is giving teens the know-how to be comfortable speaking in front of others - something many students admit is not easy when they're so used to texting.

"I've realized to really speak to people more in person and say what I mean and not just through text," said student Constantina Konugres.

Some parents also see more confidence in their children because of the course.

"Normally, he is a bit shy but now when he meets people for the first time, he's more willing to go up to them and start a conversation," said parent Ron Yee.

Faced with high unemployment, the founder of the program hopes the skills these kids are learning will put them ahead of the rest - before and after they graduate from high school.

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