The National Speech Contest for Students of Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an annual competition for which Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee has been a special sponsor since 2003, was held on October 1, 2021, at Osaka Prefectural Osaka-kita Support School for the Visually Impaired. The contest was held online for the first time in its history, with the speakers participating from their local schools.
The speech contest, which has a long, distinguished history going all the way back to its inception in 1928, marked its 89th anniversary this year. In their excellent speeches, the nine finalists whose ages range from 14 to 61, selected from seven regions covering Japan, discussed their challenges and aspirations, as well as what motivates them in their quest to fulfill their great potential as valued members of society.
Ms. Momoka Futura won the first prize in this year’s contest with a speech titled “Advancing Step by Step.” She is a third-year student in the junior high school department of Gifu Prefectural Gifu School for the Blind. On joining a choir when she was in the sixth grade, she encountered difficulties because her visual impairment meant she could not do things in the same way as the other members of the choir, which undermined her confidence. Recognizing that she needed to make some changes in her life, she decided to step out of the shadows and frankly tell the people around her what she found confusing and hard to handle. By gaining their understanding, she became much more positive and capable of rising to the challenge. “Small steps add up to big progress” is the key takeaway from her inspiring speech.
The Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee’s activities are inspired by the Group message, “Passing important values from people to people.” We relish the opportunity to contribute to the success of this contest in bringing the words and example of these life-affirming inspirational individuals to the attention of the wide audience they so richly deserve.