Holly conquers her fear
OHAUPO pupil Holly Walmsley (left) with a gift made as part of her project - which was supported by her classmates, Val Millington and teacher Gene Bartlett (right rear) and benefited Te Awamutu Women’s Refuge (two representatives centre rear).
By Cathy Asplin
Most people get nervous at the thought of speaking in front of others, but for Ohaupo student Holly Walmsley the fear of public speaking was terrifying.
“I have never had confidence in speaking - or in myself. Even the thought of speaking made me sick. When I was called on to do a class speech I started crying straight away.”
Class teacher Gene Bartlett recognised that Holly had a real problem and called on Val Millington to help.
“I started going to Mrs Millington every day to build my confidence. Initially I couldn’t even read my speech to her, but eventually I did, then I built up the number of people I could speak to.”
When it came time to read her speech about less fortunate children in Uganda, Holly again froze in front of the class.
“I remembered how I felt when I first stood up there - my stomach started to hurt and I started to cry, so I ran to the toilets.”
When she returned Mrs Millington asked her to focus on the children she wanted to help, rather than on her own fear. She suggested they read Holly’s speech together as the class had been waiting for some time.
“Eventually I took the speech notes off her. It took me 20 minutes to get started, but I did it in the end.”
Holly’s speech outlined how her family sponsored a child and explained that many children in Uganda do not have any schooling and certainly don’t have any Christmas presents.
“We don’t realise how fortunate we really are here in New Zealand.”
Holly’s bravery in presenting her speech and her desire to help others struck a chord with her classmates, who knew how difficult it was for her to speak publicly. They too wanted to help the children in Uganda.
“But Mrs Milligan pointed out that there were less fortunate people in our own community who we could help.”
This got Holly thinking of ways they could help. She enlisted the help of her classmates and wrote to their parents for support with her idea.
“We got into groups and filled wrapped boxes with gifts like toys, jewellery, make-up and games. After hearing about different charities we finally voted who should get these boxes - we decided it should be the Women’s Refuge in Te Awamutu.”
Representatives of the Te Awamutu Women’s Refuge visited Ohaupo school earlier this week They were met by a smiling Holly Walmsley who read out a speech, outlining the story of her Christmas project to the visitors, teachers and classmates.