Olivia Tangey is the Bendigo Lions Club ‘Youth of the Year’ candidate after outperforming four rivals for the coveted opportunity to move on to the zone level. Naturally she hopes for the opportunity to attend the state challenge.

“I love public speaking,” Olivia said when asked about why she had taken up the challenge. “But it’s also about building leadership skills and being involved with an organisation that seeks to make a difference to people’s lives.”

Lions Youth of the Year gave Olivia the chance to think seriously about issues that affect people far and wide. Impromptu questions she successfully handled included discussing the future of 9-5 jobs, and what she sees when she looks to 2020. Her prepared speech was a presentation about how travelling in third-world countries altered her world view.

Year 12 student, Caitlin Allman, competing with the Maiden Gully Lions Club, was not the overall winner but emerged as the winner of the Public Speaking section—missing out by only two points on being their Youth of the Year candidate.

For Caitlin, the opportunity to speak about an issue she is deeply engaged with was the motivation to participate. A friend of Caitlin’s recently died due to issues relating to Tourette’s Syndrome—a well-recognised but very challenging syndrome causing involuntary movements, vocalisation or blinks. “Competing in Youth of the Year was about taking an opportunity to educate and draw attention to Tourettes,” she said.

Impromptu questions about the impact of social media on young people and what she might say given 30 minutes with the new US president gave Caitlin the opportunity to exhibit her public speaking skills, honed last year in the BSSC Debating Team.

Caitlin is the Student Council President for 2017, so there will be many opportunities to hear her speak in the months ahead.