ILLEGAL wildlife trade was the focus for Armidale school students that competed in the inaugural Speaking 4 the Planet event.
The theme this year is Go Wild for Life and teaches students about species under threat.
The event encourages students to speak up about the impacts of trading species illegally in three categories, prepared speech, impromptu speech and impromptu drama.
Event organiser Phil Smith said the event helps students to express evidence-based views.
“I think it’s important for education to open kids’ eyes, because the issues that we are discussing, even though they’re world issues, they have an impact at a local level.
"This event was focused on preventing illegal trade in wildlife and at a local level these kids can see that the black cockatoo is at risk,” he said.
Mr Smith developed the program because he believes children need to understand their place in the world.
“It’s important for kids to understand their connection to the rest of the world, both inward and outward and to get to experience in public speaking because that is honestly a life skill.
“We need to remember that kids have a perspective on the world and they do care about it, this event really allows them to speak out and realise that if they take an interest in an issue they need to have facts to support their opinions,” he said.
The event is tied in with the United Nations’ World Environment Day and is focused on understanding broader world issues.
Mr Smith said that he tied the event in with World Environment Day for a reason.
“I tied the event in with the UN’s World Environment Day theme because especially in Australian society the day goes largely ignored,” he said.
Armidale Regional Council administrator Dr Ian Tiley said that public speaking was an important skill to master for all students.
“It’s good to be nervous because the nerves keep you focused,” he said.
Winners of the prepared speech and improptu speech were Ashini Ekanayake and Owen Chandler from The Armidale School and students from O’Connor Catholic College took out the impromptu drama category.