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She was the valedictorian of her class at Tots Foundation in Tunapuna, and the most outstanding student in her first year class at Tunapuna Presbyterian Primary School.

She has been dancing with the Kiza Dance Academy and playing piano at the Charles Brunner School of Music since the age of four, is a yellow belt in karate, runs with the school’s track and field club, and does gymnastics and swimming.

On May 24, Valeska Balmacoon, seven, also became the winner of the third annual Inspire Primary School Spoken Word Showcase produced by the 2 Cents Movement and Republic Bank.

The second year student beat 29 other contestants at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port of Spain at the competition, which was the culmination of the 2 Cents Movement primary school tour.

Valeska said she wrote the winning poem, Child Abuse, with the help of one of the 2 Cent Movement spoken word artistes. It told the story of a girl who saw her little sister being physically abused by her father. She tried to help but he hit her too. They got away and ran to a neighbour’s house and called the police. Their parents were taken away, they were placed in foster care, and found true love with their new parents.

She said she participated in the primary school tour workshop last year and liked writing poetry so she joined it again this year where she learned about onomatopoeias and alliterations.

She said she felt happy when she won but she expected it.

Her mother, Savitri Nanan-Balmacoon explained that, during rehearsals, Valeska was repeatedly told how good she was, and that she would win so she was confident on the day of the competition.

During her performance, Valeska cried making the plight of the girls in her story more realistic.

“It was so emotional, so real…The judges started to cry, people in the audience started to cry. The main judge, Helen Batson, has a drama school that travels internationally and she said she was moved and wants her to be part of the school,” said Nanan-Balmacoon.

Valeska added that said she liked to perform and had won a vintage calypso competition at school singing David Rudder’s Calypso Music, and wanted to be a singer when she grew up.

Sister, sister: Valeska, left, and her sister Angelique Balmacoon are proud of the trophies they won at the Inspire Primary School Spoken Word Showcase. Valeska won first prize and Angelique received the prize for Most Unique Performance. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE

He sister Angelique Balmacoon, nine, was also a part of the competition and won Most Unique Performance. She too enjoyed writing and performing spoken word poetry. “I like it because you write poems, and it helps you to be brave and confident.”

Her poem, My Criminal Life, told the story of a criminal who eventually regretted her decisions after getting shot while robbing a bank. She asked God to forgive her and give her a chance but He did not and she died.

Nanan-Balmacoon also said Angelique made it to the finals of the NGC Sanfest last year and got a merit award, and was one of UNICEF’s 2017-2018 child ambassadors.


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