UAW-Ford Gives Detroit High-Schoolers the Opportunity to Witness Collegiate-Level Debates

Think you know a lot about a topic? Try debating it.

It’s one of the best ways to truly learn about an issue, understand all its sides and figure out how to best communicate your view on it. Developing both analytical and rhetorical skills are part of the building blocks that help to create future leaders.

That’s why UAW-Ford is hosting the second annual Debate in the D program on Friday, April 27. The event, held at Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern, will provide an opportunity for approximately 700 high-schoolers to watch an official collegiate-level debate. 

“We’re giving young people the opportunity to be exposed to debate and the benefits of it,” says Sam Abrams, youth and community programming coordinator with UAW-Ford. “At a young age we get so set on, ‘there’s only one way to do something or one way to think about it,’ so debate opens our minds to be able to think about different opinions and being able to do the research that supports different views and perspectives.”

This year’s event will include college debate team members from Spelman College and Morehouse College in Georgia, along with students from the University of Michigan – Flint and Central Michigan University. It will follow the collegiate parliamentary debate format, with an emphasis on persuasiveness, logic and wit.


This event is part of UAW-Ford’s commitment to conducting community service initiatives.

“At UAW-Ford, we don’t just build strong cars and trucks; we also build strong communities, and this is another way that we’re doing just that,” Abrams says. “Too often, strong debate skills are ignored as the benchmark that helps produce great leaders. We’re excited to create opportunities for local youth to take part in this experience, providing opportunities for them to observe effective persuasive speaking and conflict resolution at its finest.” 

At a time when young people are getting more and more involved in shaping policy and the type of world they want to live in, helping kids find their voice is critical.

“Children are our future. I know that it is a cliché, but young people truly are our future. Helping young people to develop their voice and to begin asking the critical questions, such as: ‘What is policy all about? How can I make a difference? What is it I want to do as it relates to my life?’”

As the students in attendance listen to the debates and get the chance to ask questions of the college students, it could be a jumping-off point for considerations about their own futures.

“Through this debate we hope to help youth aim for greater possibilities that may have otherwise been unknown,” he adds. “We might just open up a couple minds to be thinking about things they may want to do and opportunities they may want to pursue.”

In addition to gaining in-depth knowledge of various subjects, other benefits of debate include an increase in confidence and self-esteem, improved public speaking skills and research abilities, and a boost in critical-thinking.

“While the debate is not open to the public, we hope the youth participants will develop a new-found passion for rhetoric and share it with their families and friends,” Abram says.

Learn more about how UAW-Ford is helping to build strong communities at

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