Youngsters find voice in speakers challenge

A 15-year-old stdudent took first prize in a competition to find the best public speakers.

Olivia Masengi from Forest Gate Community School scooped the top prize in the Newham Final Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge 2010-11. Her speech on ‘Postcode Wars’ won Olivia an iPod touch and the chance to take part in the Gala Grand Final of the competition next month.

She said: “I jumped out of my seat with excitement when my name was announced as the winner. I care passionately about the issue of ‘postcode wars’ - a war that affects many young people in Newham and knowing that I connected with the audience and the judges makes me unbelievably proud.”

The challenge, which was held Plashet School, is a public speaking initiative that is now in its sixth year and is delivered by the Speakers Trust. Initial rounds are taking place in over 550 schools across London and Essex.

Fifteen schools in Newham took part in the Final. The training has involved 500 year 10 students across the borough, who all received a full day of training in public speaking and effective communication. The strongest from each school went forward to a final of 19 students speaking out passionately about issues important to them.

Runner up was Geraint Garcia, 15, from St Bonaventure’s Catholic School with his subject ‘You can be’ and third was Nissy Nsilulu, 15, from Sarah Bonnell School with her subject ‘Support”.

The panel of judges included Newham Borough Commander Chief Supt Simon Letchford.