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Michael Akinyemi becomes a Grand Final

7 Jul 2022

After a challenging pandemic with far reaching consequences for schools, students and oracy skills, the Jack Petchey Foundation recognised and responded to the needs of young people. They made it possible for more than 30,000 students to be part of the Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge! this academic year alone, making this the highest number of students ever trained on the programme in such a short amount of this.

The Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge! provides year 10 students in state schools across London and Essex with public speaking and communication training to increase their confidence, sense of agency and drive to make a difference in society.

During the academic year, over 400 schools have received a free one-day public speaking workshop for their students. The student’s confidence in speaking to an audience, without notes, is measured at the beginning and at the end of the day. During 2021-22, 77% of students have increased their confidence to stand up and talk to a group of people. At the end of the day, every school nominates one student to go on to the Regional Final, where they compete again other school finalists and their speeches are judged based on content delivery and structure by a panel of esteemed judges. After going on to win the semi-finals, our 15 most inspirational, articulate, and impressive speakers are now ready to present their speech to you!

We will celebrate the achievements of these awe-inspiring young people in the heart of London’s West End at Cambridge Theatre on Monday 18th July and crown the 2022 “Speak Out” Champion!

In no particular order, meet Grand Finalist Michael Akinyemi!

Michael’s speech ‘I am a fighter’ earned them and their school, St Benedict’s Catholic College for Girls, a place in the East Essex Regional Final. Michael references his rich Nigerian heritage, drawing particular attention to the courage of his father who sort a new life for his family.

We asked Michael, what is your favourite quote and why?  

“”It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.” It inspires me to keep improving myself, because I don’t think there’s anything I’ve been practising for 10,000 hours yet.” 

What three top tips on life would you give a Year Seven student? 

“Keep up with your homework, get into the habit of reading (it makes you a much better English student), and do some research into what you want to do at college and after that.” 

You could have made a speech anything in the world. Why did you speak about this one subject? 

“There are two reasons. One, because my heritage is very important to me, and I wouldn’t have talked about anything else. The second reason is because of stigmas about immigration. I talk about my father in my speech as an immigrant to shed some light why people immigrate. It’s not like he couldn’t have lived a good life in Nigeria. He graduated from university, was earning decent money. But he knew that he was destined for more than “decent”. Immigrants don’t leave their entire lives behind to come and steal people’s jobs in England.” 

How would you like people to think / act differently from hearing your story? 

“When I was in year 7, my school held a multicultural day, with non-uniform. Although if you walked into an assembly that day, you wouldn’t have been able to tell it was a multicultural day. There were very few people dressed in traditional clothing. It was seen as embarrassing for most of us, myself included. But standing there in my jeans and t-shirt, I felt sort of empty. 3 years later, we held another multicultural day. Even in the hot weather, I came dressed in my native clothing. Sweaty and tired, but fulfilled. I knew that this was who I was. I want people to feel the same about their culture. It’s not embarrassing. I would like people to embrace their heritage more.” 

Watch Michael’s winning speech.

Join us at the Grand Final. Book your tickets now.