A Wigan schoolboy has fought off competition from thousands of youngsters to be named as a finalist in a national comedy competition.
Since last autumn, more than 5,000 children have taken part in Voice Box, the joke-telling competition for schools in England and Scotland.
Aiden Palmer, a 10-year-old pupil at Hope School, a specialist educational needs school and college, has made it through to the final alongside just 17 others with his joke: “How do you get a lot of Pikachus on the bus? Pokemon”.
Voice Box is an annual competition, organised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and partnered by National Association of Head Teachers.
It aims to remind people that there are children in every classroom who need support to help them speak and understand what is being said to them.
Aiden was presented with a Voice Box certificate and goodie bag for making it through to the final.
Asked what he would like to be when he grows up, Aiden responded: “I’d like to be a professional game player.”
More than 10 per cent of children and young people have long term speech, language and communication needs which create barriers to communication or learning in everyday life.
This includes 7.6 per cent of children who start school with developmental language disorder – a condition where children have problems understanding or using spoken language, with no obvious reason for these difficulties – and 2.3 per cent who have difficulties associated with another condition, such as autism or hearing impairment.
Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield, who attended the event, said: “I am very pleased to support Aiden from Hope Special School at Voice Box.
“The event has demonstrated how communication skills help children to have the best start in life.
“Public speaking is a part of my daily life and as such I fully appreciate the work teachers and speech and language therapists do to help children to communicate as well as possible.”
RCSLT Chief Executive Officer Kamini Gadhok MBE added: “In every classroom there will be between two and three children with communication difficulties.
“The Voice Box competition helps teachers, children and parents to focus on the impact effective communication can have on a child’s social and emotional well-being.”