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Meet the student speaking up for the youth

TALENTED PUPIL: Crystal Donaldson spoke about the challenges faced by GCSE pupils

A SOLIHULL teenager has nished runner-up in the regional final of a national public speaking competition at the University of Birmingham.

Crystal Donaldson, 15, made it to the final after being selected following workshops in 17 schools across the West Midlands.

Her speech, titled Education Is Your Choice, in which she spoke on the challenges her peers face in taking their GCSE exams, was delivered as part of the Speak Out Challenge, which has involved more than 22,000 students across the Midlands, Bradford, Doncaster, London and Manchester.

Crystal, a Year 10 student at Grace Academy in Chelmsley Wood, said: “I felt a huge amount of pressure when I prepared the speech. I alone would be representing my school. I was determined and grateful for the opportunity; this was why I was able to go on to the stage and deliver my speech so confidently.”

The MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill, presented the awards. She said: “It’s been a wonderful evening. The students spoke with such passion and commitment on a diverse range of interesting and challenging subjects.

“I think we can be really proud of our schools here in the West Midlands as they are producing such talented individuals and potential leaders of the future.”

Jo Bowers of Birmingham City University, also senior officer of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme, which encourages under-privileged young people to proceed to higher education, added: “Crystal’s speech was extraordinarily motivational regarding the power of education and I commented that it should have been recorded and sent to every school in the country. She should be extremely proud of herself.”

The Speak Out Challenge has been running for 12 years. It was designed and delivered by the Speakers Trust charity, which has a vision for “every young person to speak confidently and be heard”.

Its programmes seek to help young people acquire the skills to express themselves with clarity, conviction and impact and embrace further opportunities to speak up.

Gill continued: “I want to congratulate the Speakers Trust on a fantastic event, and thank them for all the valuable work they do for young people.”

Across the West Midlands, 76 per cent of the least confident students felt more confident as a result of the training they have received through the challenge, while 77 per cent felt they picked up skills that would help them continue in education or get a job.

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