More than 300 teenagers and adults gathered for TEDxTeen 2013, an independently organized conference presented by the We Are Family Foundation, that focused the conversation on teens and their power to change the world. The conference was hosted by Chelsea Clinton on March 16 at Scholastic’s global world headquarters in New York City.
The theme of the fourth annual TEDxTeen conference was “The Audacity of whY.” This idea resonates with Generation Y or more appropriately, “Generation Why?”-as they turn over established regimes, age-old thinking and timeless truths through social media, the power of crowds and an unswerving belief that they have the right to know why.
In addition to Clinton, TEDxTeen 2013 featured a number of speakers and performers who are each leading the global “whY” revolution in their own way, including photographer Joseph Peter; Global Minimum Innovate Salone 2012 winner Kelvin Doe; Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela and co-founder and co-chairman of the Africa Rising Foundation; and Sophie Umazi, creator of the “I AM KENYAN” Project, among many others. Here are some of the highlights.
“Joseph Peter: Give Happiness”
Peter captured a selection of some of the most uplifting and inspiring imagery of African people through a photographic study of happiness during the 2009 FIFA World Cup. The photographs were compiled to create “The Book of Happiness: Africa,” which was given to 2,500 global leaders, dignitaries and stakeholders at the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa and inspired the campaign to create an International Day of Happiness.
“Kelvin Doe: Persistent Experimentation”
Doe spoke of “Persistent Experimentation.” The inspiring youngster from Sierra Leone exhibited creative instincts as a child and often dreamed of solutions to problems in his community. Doe, together with his team, built a radio station for his community out of recycled materials, in addition to homemade batteries and a generator.
“Creativity is universal and found in places you don’t expect to find it,” Doe told the audience.
“Ndaba Mandela: Why Africa Rising”
Ndaba Mandela spoke about inspiration. He told the audience that he wants to inspire new generations to empower and believe in themselves, and inspire their own communities. He went on to say that he knows that people look at him differently due to his prominent last name, and that has brought on many opportunities in his life but also many challenges. He had to change his outlook and learn that he has the power to control his own destiny. As the co-founder and co-chairman of Africa Rising Foundation, Mandela and his organization are dedicated to promoting a positive image of Africa around the world.
Mandela inspired the audience, stating, “We are being seen, we are being heard. I hope we will use our collective voices for a positive change.”
“Sophie Umazi: Picture this Peace”
During the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, Umazi was almost killed by three men who mistakenly thought that she was from an “enemy tribe” due to her light skin. So frightened and disgusted by the blind hatred exhibited by these men, Umazi knew she had to open the lines of communication across cultural boundaries and promote understanding.
After being inspired by artist JR’s “Inside Out” campaign, Umazi launched the “I AM KENYAN” project, a globally backed, Kenyan-driven awareness campaign that used photography as a platform to promote peace during last week’s 2013 Kenyan elections. The idea is simple: different people are encouraged to take a photograph of themselves with the tag “I AM KENYAN.” Photography is a powerful storyteller, and when Kenyans, both locally and in the Diaspora, come together to tell of and confirm their identity through this powerful platform, a strong message is sent to the public. It encourages them to see themselves as Kenyans before identifying themselves ethnically.
It’s six months since she launched her campaign, and Umazi’s organization has had a global outreach of over 4 million, collected over 10,000 pictures globally and conducted 15 local peace marches. Her project has resulted in a peaceful election with more than 70 percent voter participation.