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TEDxYouth@TampaBay Celebrates Local Youth

What do a conservationist, a scientist and the youngest solo hiker on the Appalachian Trail have in common? They’re all Tampa Bay residents under the age of 18. They’re also all speakers at TEDxYouth@TampaBay.

The fourth annual event, November 16 at the John F. Germany Library in Tampa, brings the community together to celebrate the unsung heroes among Tampa Bay youth. The 18-minute "TED talks" are modeled after the larger TED organization, which originally stood for technology, entertainment and design but now includes any topic that is encouraging and inspiring.

This year's event is being held in conjunction with over 70 events across the globe during the weekend-long TEDxYouthDay

"We have a fantastic slate of presenters who are inspired by something and then go out and act on it," says Terri Willingham, the event’s organizer. "They’re not just thinkers, they’re doers."

The theme is "Spark of Inspiration." The six presenters, all from Tampa Bay, plan to exemplify the theme, each in their own way. For example:
  • 15-year old Neva “chipmunk” Warren is the youngest person to do a solo 1,700 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Her focus is encouraging people to move away from body image issues and focus on what your body can do.
  • Carrie Boucher takes art on the road to serve youth through the NOMADStudio (Neighborhood-Oriented Mobile Art & Design Studio) and the belief that art is for everyone.
  • James Geiger, a recent Masters’ degree graduate from the University of South Florida, is a multidimensional artist. Complications at birth left him with Cerebral Palsy, but that hasn’t slowed him down or stifled his ability to inspire and encourage others. His message is that there aren’t any disabilities. It’s all about what you can do with what you’re given.
  • At the age of 12, Avalon Theisen is this year's youngest presenter. When she was nine, she founded a nonprofit, Conserve It Forward, which promotes environmental awareness and action, especially among youth.
"We don’t always take a lot of time to listen to one another," says Willingham. "This is an opportunity for these young people to be heard, and for us to listen. It gives me reassurance and hope for the future."

The event is sold out, but can be viewed via live stream.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Terri Willingham, Learning is for Everyone

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

Megan Hendricks is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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