35 Years of Strengthening the Voice of Our Youth

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On 23 September 2022, the 35th YMCA Plain English Speaking Awards (PESA) 2022 Awards Presentation Ceremony celebrated 18 winners who were selected from 776 student participants across 177 pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The event was graced by Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Second Minister for Education.

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This year, YMCA PESA celebrated 35 years of promoting the effective and articulate use of spoken English amongst the younger generation. Supported by the Ministry of Education and Speak Good English Movement, YMCA PESA saw an almost twofold increase of participants from 2021, with 776 students coming on board to hone their creativity, critical thinking and speaking skills. Through the competition, participants were challenged to deliver thoughtful and meaningful views on a range of topics. In commemoration of YMCA PESA’s 35th anniversary this year, every category had a topic themed after “35”, such as “If I have an extra 35 minutes, I would…” or “If I had 35 minutes with my Prime Minister…”.

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In alignment with YMCA’s goal to champion, challenge and train youth to achieve their fullest potential through volunteerism and leadership experiences, YMCA PESA semi-finalists and finalists in the Secondary and JC/CI/ITE/POLY categories also embarked on experiential learning trips to lend a helping hand in YMCA’s Community Service Programmes. These participants volunteered in various programmes such as Y Arts and Y Nature Walk to interact with clients with special needs through several activities. Participants then reflected on their meaningful experiences and crafted inspirational speeches for the competition.

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“It is heartening to see how YMCA PESA has been strengthening the use of plain spoken English in generations of youth throughout the decades. Critical thinking and effective communication are two vital skillsets that are extremely valuable to our society, and I hope that our participants will make good use of these skills to contribute to their schools, workplaces, and the community.” said Ms Wu Mei Ling, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore.