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Erin student at provincial public speaking competition

Peter Edwards of Erin competed in the championship round of a public speaking contest, with a speech that promoted the value of education in lifting people out of poverty.  Submitted photo

Erin student at provincial public speaking competition

by Phil Gravelle

ERIN - Peter Edwards, a Grade 8 student at Erin Public School, highlighted the benefits of access to education for children throughout the world at a provincial public speaking competition on March 28.

He was in the championship round of Speaker’s Idol at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, sponsored by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies.

“I was taking a look at other countries where there really isn’t the infrastructure and opportunity,” he said. “I was stating problems and ways to fix them.”

He said improved education would open up opportunities to solve many problems such as poverty.

“It was originally just a school project, where we wrote a speech that followed the criteria, and then I had the option to submit it, so I did and eventually I got to the finals. I didn’t think that would happen.”

Hi speech was one of 20 chosen from entries across the province. He was successful at the semi-finals March 3 and went on to the finals as one of five in his age group. While he did not win an award, it was a positive experience.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but it was also nice to find myself around all these other people that seemed really extroverted in what they were doing and it kind of gave me confidence,” he said.

The experience taught him that he could potentially get up and speak “in front of any amount of people.”

Speakers were invited to deliver a three-minute speech on creating positive change in the world, centred on Simon Wiesenthal’s quote, “I believe in the good in people.” Wiesenthal is a Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.

In his speech, Edwards pointed out that one third of kids in sub-Saharan Africa are not in school and only 61 per cent of adults can read and write.

“It is in places like this, where poverty is widespread, where the children have to work, and where the food is not plentiful that education suffers,” he said.

“Its presence can be felt in the places with military and militants, where soldiers are needed and no one is safe. It is also prevalent in the dark places when the government wants to shield their citizens from the truth.

“With difficult times ahead due to its fast-rising population, the whole of Africa is going to need more education.”

Here in Canada, he said people of different ethnicities and cultures need to feel welcome in schools.

“If we want to see some fast change we’ll have to let our government know we want to help other nations see success,” he said.

“We must forget the long-lasting grudges and lay the rifles on the ground.”

April 12, 2019


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