WILLINGBORO South Jersey teens will deliver speeches and perform music selections at an event next month to showcase their public-speaking skills.

The event is sponsored by the New Jersey Orators, a volunteer group established in 1985 by African American corporate executives who wanted to improve the language skills of black youth as well as boost their self-confidence.

It will be held at 7 p.m. May 13 at the Willingboro Public Library. It is free and open to the public.

Participants ranging in age from 7 to 18 can perform an original work or famous speech, said organizer Robert Payne, an educator who mentors the youngsters along with his wife, Joyce.

About 15 children who live in South Jersey and the Philadelphia area are expected to perform, he said. In addition to speeches, there will be piano and flute performances. Volunteer coaches have been preparing the youngsters.

"We're very proud of the children," Payne said.

Based in Somerset, in North Jersey, New Jersey Orators has 15 chapters statewide, including one in Willingboro. The group has more than 200 volunteer coaches who mentor and work with about 500 youngsters.

Competitions are held twice yearly. Payne said the Willingboro event, the first sponsored here, was a chance to showcase the students.

For more information, call 609-877-6668.

- Melanie Burney