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Meet Grand Finalist Parfaite Balande

10 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 Parfaite Balande.

Her speech ‘Smile and the World Smiles with You’ earned her and her school, St Matthew Academy, Lewisham, first place in her Digital Final in June. Parfaite’s joyful speech is complimented by a warm smile throughout. It delivers on its title!

We asked Parfaite, what three items or people would you choose to take to a desert island and why? 

  1. An airbed; I do not think sand is very comfortable to sleep on
  2. A mini fridge with a built-in water dispenser; a girl has to eat!
  3. A boat; just in case I want to go home

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

So much happens in our lives that sometimes we forget to smile, even though it is one of the best feelings in the world.

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

It gives us the opportunity to be heard even if we aren’t talking about anything serious or ‘important’. The fact that we have a space to share stories and topics that we are passionate about is amazing, especially since young people are so overlooked.


What Parfaite’s speech.