Once again this year, nine blind student representatives ranging in age from 14 to 58 emerged from districts from all over Japan, after winning their respective elimination contests. They spoke with passion on how they felt when they had overcome the conflicts in their minds and the important experiences they had through dealing with their family or friends.
The impressive winner of this year‘s contest was second year student Akari Kakino, of Fukuoka Prefectural Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, the delegate from the Kyushu region. She moved the hall to tears with her speech, titled “I want to protect them”. Akari has amblyopia as well as a disability with her legs due to also having cerebral palsy since she was born. When she was in elementary school and junior high school, she harmed herself and even spoke about hating her own sister who was born without any health issues as well as similar feelings toward her own mother. However, after she transferred from her school to the Special Needs Education School, she met friends who had the same disabilities as her. Finally she could feel relieved, but then noticed that her family had also been suffering just as much as she was. She spoke strongly about her feelings for her family now, “Whatever happens, even if I have no power to do so, I want to protect them”, at which the entire audience was touched and engulfed by emotion.
At the end of the ceremony, the chief juror, Yonhon Shin summarized the day, "Because we had learned from the last year, nobody lost points for exceeding the time limitation, but in order to deliver better speeches, some of the contestants need to work on better assembling their points of the speech”. He also commented to each of the teachers regarding the importance of guiding students through the content of their speech.
The Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee has supported this competition for the 12th time over the years with our group message, "Passing important values from people to people". We hope we can contribute to the development of this “Speech Contest of the Schools for the Blind” which is sending “The power of living” to our society through the powerful words of these inspirational people.