A story-telling competition has helped improve youngsters' public- speaking skills and enhance communication between parents and their children. The final round of the 1998-99 Children's Story-telling Competition, organised by RTHK, Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong and the Bank of East Asia, was held at City Hall in Central. The event, celebrating its 25th anniversary, received an encouraging response from teachers, students and parents. Three finalists from each of the five categories - junior, senior, broadcast drama, Putonghua and family storytelling - were selected from more than 500 competitors. The 15 finalists selected topics ranging from pollution, unemployment and economic woes to literary prose, war, family relationships and extra-marital affairs. One of the adjudicators, Dr Choi Yuen-wan, general-secretary of Breakthrough - a youth organisation - said he was satis fied with the overall performance of the youngsters. Some of them displayed lively, innovative techniques that belied their age, Mr Choi said. 'They showed a talent for expressing stories clearly and in a lively fashion. This attracted our attention to listen to the message they were trying to convey. 'Youngsters can learn to appreciate stories through this competition. 'They have their own way of presentation which is not dull and monotonous. They skilfully varied their tones, and used body language and music to create an impression among the audience.' The way some difficult topics were presented, Mr Choi said, reflected the participants' views of the world around them. 'When they speak sarcastically on issues like love affairs or environmental problems, they are showing the negative attitudes in their minds. 'Some are affected by their parents, peers or the media,' he said. Mr Choi said developing the reading habit among youngsters was part of whole-person educa tion which would lead to a more creative workforce. 'Apart from academic achievements, humour, culture and the arts are important in nurturing the next generation.' Winners of the broadcast drama group were Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Primary School (PM), Pui Ling of Precious Blood School (PM) and Sam Shui Natives Association Kindergarten. Senior group winner, eight- year-old Wong Chun-hoi, received the Bank of East Asia 80th Anniversary Prize for his outstanding performance.