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Meet Grand Finalist Mayumi Staunton

9 Nov 2021

In 2020 Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! Grand Final took to the airwaves – for the first time ever we broadcast around the world from a London film studio via YouTube. All but a handful of last year’s finalists shared their messages at digital events rather than live on stage. But things have changed and we are thrilled that this year the Grand Final will return to its home in the heart of London’s West End, the Cambridge Theatre on Monday 29th November. The count down is on!

More than 20,000 year 10 students from state schools in London and Essex took part in the “Speak Out” Challenge! this academic year, just fifteen students have become 2021 Grand Finalists.

All of this year’s finalists are Digital Champions whose pre-recorded speeches were broadcast as Zoom webinars to an audience of friends, families, teachers, the finalists themselves and of course, a panel of esteemed judges.

In no particular order meet Grand Finalist Mayumi Staunton!

Her speech ‘Girls Need to Stop Saying Sorry’ earned her and her school, Chelmsford County High School for Girls, first place in her Digital Final in February. Speaking with conviction and clarity, Mayumi suggests the way many women we use language is often to assume blame rather than to empower themselves.

We asked Mayumi, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be and why? 

I would eat Sinigang – it’s a traditional Filipino soup, which I love. My mum and my grandma always make it and I would want to eat something that makes me feel at home.  

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

I chose to talk about this because often when we talk about really big issues such as feminism and misogyny – the large range of issues can lead us to inaction. I wanted to focus on a small, somewhat subconscious reflex that many women live with and bring it to light to show how embedded misogyny is in our daily lives. This is a really tough topic to tackle but I wanted to start with an issue that all women can relate to and one that helps men understand how women often feel. Small steps can create a big change – and I want this speech to be a catalyst for a larger conversation.

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

The earlier that we share our experiences and opinions, the earlier we can influence change in our world. The more we can communicate cross-generationally, the more we can effect change together, alongside the older generations. Young people are the future, and it’s our right and duty to help shape it. 

And, what three top tips on life would you give a Year Seven student? 

  1. Allow yourself to explore opportunities beyond academia 
  2. Celebrate other people’s achievements as they are not your failures
  3. Reflect on your good and bad traits – we all have room to grow and its best to start now so we can start changing the world.

Watch Mayumi’s speech now.