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    Grace McCarthy becomes Grand Finalist

    4 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 Grace McCarthy!

    Grace’s speech ‘Do I need a longer skirt?’ earned them and their school, St Gregory’s Catholic Science College, a place in the Brent Regional Final. Grace shares her perspective on blame culture in relations to women’s safety, and its consequences. 

    We asked Grace, What is your favourite saying or quote and why? 

    Keep your head, standards and heels high – Just as Coco Chanel said, everyone should hold their head up, and on the days when you’re not feeling so brave, I think that heels give you that confidence to feel strong.”

    If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be and why? 

    “Pesto and Pine Nut Salad – The vibrant green of pesto doesn’t just taste amazing but it looks great too! It’s like happiness on a plate!”

    Why do you think it’s important for young people, like you, to share their stories? 

    It’s important because young people are the future. There’s a misconception that young people are ambivalent to the world, but be assured that young people have not only the compassion and care to bring a new perspective to the world, but also be the successful leaders of tomorrow. Our stories deserve a platform.”

    And finally, if you could make one change in the world what would it be? 

    End period poverty. This would mean that everyone who requires them will have access to clean and safe sanitary products, worldwide.”


    Watch Grace’s winning speech 

    You can help amplify young voices on Monday 18th July. Book your free tickets now.