Reading Pupils Speak Out and Make a Splash!

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Pupils from seven Catholic primary schools across Reading and Newbury gathered together in Reading Council Chambers last night for the CAFOD Reading Cluster Primary Public Speaking Final – and they were fantastic!

Teachers, parents and pupils from English Martyrs, St Martin’s, St Joseph’s College Prep, Christ the King, St Paul’sSt Dominic Savio and St Joseph’s heard the finalists call for action on water poverty and share their thoughts on how we can all take action on this issue.

As many of the finalists stated, right now 650 million people are living without access to clean water and 2.5 billion people lack something as basic as access to a toilet and sewage system.

Having to walk miles every day day to collect water and being unable to go to school as a result is as one pupil said ‘against a person’s human rights’.  But, as they reminded us, it’s a daily reality for so many people around the world – especially girls in some of the poorest communities.

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Faced with this huge challenge, some finalists alluded to Pope Francis recent encyclical ‘Laudato Si” which reminds us that this world is a gift which we need to protect.

As one speaker said, ‘We all need to do our part for our world family’ and, quoting Pope Francis, asked us all to ‘live wisely, think deeply and love generously.’

But alongside calling for action, each speaker had very clear ideas about what we can all do to help including providing more education about water conservation and more investment.  Pupils alluded to some of the initiatives run by CAFOD partners around the world such as the installation of boreholes, rain water harvesting and community water management committees.  Watch our short film below on our work in Uganda.

The finalists also asked us all to look at our own lifestyles and pledged to monitor their own water usage in practical ways. These included taking short showers instead of baths, turning off taps when brushing our teeth and not drinking bottled water.  As one speaker said, ‘We all need to do our part for our world family’ and, quoting Pope Francis, ‘live wisely, think deeply and love generously.’

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Competition organiser and CAFOD Education Volunteer for the Reading area, Linda Heneghan said,

“It’s been a real privilege to work in our Catholic schools in Reading and I’m truly humbled by the children we’ve heard from tonight.  Young people need their voices to be heard; they are certainly going to be thoughtful and caring citizens of tomorrow. Isn’t it awesome to see what our primary school pupils can do? I know I wouldn’t have been able to get up and speak with such confidence and ease at that age!”

Well done everyone!   Our judging panel this year included Tony Jones, Lead Councillor for Education, Councillor John Ennis, National Coordinator for the Association of Catholic Chaplains in Education, Diana Polisano and our very own Jo Lewry!

Congratulations to everyone who took part!

Our overall winner was from St Joseph’s Prep this year and the school was also awarded a special shield for having the highest amalgamated scores!

We are very grateful indeed to all our judges who were all wonderful and all the parents and teachers who helped the finalists with their talks and gave them such fantastic support on the night.   Our personal thanks though of course goes to Linda Heneghan – our marvellous volunteer – without whom none of this would take place.  Thank you Linda!

Read more about our special Lenten appeal which this year focusses on water.

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