She was only six years old when her brother participated in the YMCA Plain English Speaking Awards (PESA) three years ago. But watching him practice so many times enabled her to deliver the same speech just as well but with her personal anecdotes. Public speaking came as a natural progression for Yvonne Swee-Neo Inglin, who is the first runner-up for the Lower Primary Category at YMCA PESA 2017.
“Yvonne could barely read when her brother joined YMCA PESA in 2014. But after seeing her brother practice time and again, she surprised us by delivering the same speech, injected with her own anecdotes. We knew then that she was a PESA candidate for sure. She loves being in front of an audience and has been telling stories in public at libraries and museums since 2015 as part of the 398.2 storytelling festival where she is the only child storyteller,” said her mother Mrs Patricia Inglin, champion of the first Plain English Speaking Awards (PESA) in 1987. “In our home, everyone talks… too much,” she added. Yvonne’s brother Martin Inglin participated in YMCA PESA in 2014 and 2016, and was the second runner up in both Upper Primary Category in 2014 and Lower Secondary Category in 2016.
Similarly for nine-year-old Jasdave Singh Sidhu, he was inspired to follow his brother’s footsteps after watching him participate in YMCA PESA for the past two years. He believes that public speaking is about sharing his true voice, and was glad for the opportunity to share passionately about cruelty against animals and the need to be kind towards them, a topic close to his heart.
“I really enjoy the stage and connecting with the audience. Each time, I step onto the stage, I am thrilled and eager to share my thoughts and ideas with everyone. It has been a wonderful journey thus far,” said Jasdave, champion for the Lower Primary Category at YMCA PESA 2017. His brother Harjas Singh Sidhu was the first runner in the Lower Primary Category in 2016. But the journey didn’t end there – both Martin Inglin and Harjas Singh Sidhu came back and volunteered as emcees for the semi-finals this year.
Yvonne and Jasdave received their awards at the 31st YMCA Plain English Speaking Awards (PESA) 2017 Prize Presentation Ceremony, which saw over 200 guests gather at Khoo Auditorium, Singapore Chinese Girls’ School on Friday 29 September 2017. Guest-of-Honour, Mr Ang Pow Chew, Principal, National Junior College, delivered a speech and presented the prizes. To encourage volunteerism, semi-finalists from the secondary and tertiary category volunteered at YMCA Community Service Programmes – Y Spring Clean, Y Arts Challenge and Y Photo Club where they helped to clean the apartments of the elderly, worked with youths with special needs to create art pieces and learnt alongside people with special needs on how to use a DSLR camera respectively. They then crafted their speeches for the semi-finals round based on their volunteering experience.
This year’s competition attracted a total of 294 participants from 133 schools. Finalists from the pre-school to tertiary category competed from 25 to 31 August 2017 at the YMCA Lee Kong Chian Auditorium. They were judged on speech content, language, manner of delivery and expression. Through the competitions, YMCA of Singapore hopes to impact and nurture youths and build up their self-confidence and exposure to public speaking, helping them to develop thinking and communication skills which will last them a lifetime.
The annual YMCA Plain English Speaking Awards is a national level public speaking competition aimed at students to sharpen their speaking skills and develop their abilities to think on their feet and communicate effectively. YMCA PESA also help to address the importance of cultivating good English speaking habits. YMCA PESA is organised by YMCA of Singapore in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Speak Good English Movement. The competition venue is sponsored by National Library Board.