Over the past decade TED has become something of an intellectual cult led by their motto ‘Ideas worth spreading’. The company was born in 1984 after a conference which combined technology, entertainment and design. It is this all-encompassing nature that today engages audiences and speakers with a variety of interests from all around the world. TED’s aim is to make great ideas accessible, and not just for the elite who pay large sums of money to attend their talks, but to the millions of people who view them online for free.
TEDx Youth launched dramatically in 2010 with 60 conferences being held in 24 different countries over a period of 24 hours. Last year this increased to 115 conferences in 50 different countries. The aim of these events is to involve the younger generation in order to inspire and empower them.
On Thursday 17th November, a large number of our Sixth Formers attended one such event in Bath. The event consisted of 20 short speeches by inspirational speakers covering an extremely wide range of topics, all relatable and relevant to the aim of the day – to energise young people to make a difference. The speakers ranged from Paralympic Gold Medallist, Stephanie Millward, who taught us how to overcome obstacles to achieve our dreams, to Jacob Dunne, who described how he turned his life around after being released from prison for murder.
Don’t just accept what you are told. This was the message given in an inspirational talk by Frank Gardner, a BBC correspondent who was shot in the Middle East in 2004. Perhaps surprisingly, he described how the events reaffirmed his faith in the region. He showed immense courage when revisiting the area and articulated how this helped him make sense of a bad experience. He believed that we should not be influenced by what we see in the media and should instead explore for ourselves and even during the face of adversity, don’t give up.
Embrace differences and look towards the future with excitement. In his talk, the former Mayor of Bath, the first openly homosexual to hold this office, emphasised that we should be proud of both our own and each other’s differences. He also urged us to ‘go through life with our arms spread open in order to collect experience’. This is something that particularly resonates with me as I look towards a future after school, an incredibly daunting but exciting prospect.
Believe that you can make a difference. It is often easy, as teenagers, to think that we cannot make a difference. Yes, we may not yet have world influential positions or the opportunities to make life changing discoveries. But the word I would like to stress is ‘yet’. We have our whole lives ahead of us and maybe someday one of us may become in charge of the UN or lead ground-breaking research projects or organise charitable expeditions. But whatever we decide to do, we can make our mark.
Don’t doubt yourself. It is not uncommon to doubt yourself, I know I do, and underestimate your abilities be it academic or extra-curricular. But we need to stop underestimating our ability to make a difference. With determination, opportunism, innovation, collaboration and hope we can be more powerful than we may think. We mustn’t forget that we have a voice and a platform, as the first generation of fluent digital speakers. In her speech, Imandeep Kwar, the founder of Impact Hub – a social entrepreneurial organisation, urged us to ‘rock the freakin’ boat’. She adds that this should be done in a compassionate and benevolent way.
Tedx Youth is inspirational. Conferences like this help us teenagers believe we can make a difference; privileged or not privileged, introvert or extrovert, male or female, intelligent or not. The world needs us now more than ever and we have no excuse not to get involved. And yes, it may not be easy but as Captain Matthew Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel, said ‘nothing great is easy’.
Felicity (UVI Form)