TEDxYouth@SanDiego: Making Change Now

The seed of TEDxYouth@SanDiego sprouted in early 2011 when Canyon Crest Academy teacher Christopher Black came up with an ambitious but attainable goal: to host a TEDxYouthDay event in Canyon Crest’s very own high school theater. Over the course of the year, students and teachers gathered for weekly meetings about how to turn this conceptual dream into a reality. Eventually, a core organizing group formed, comprising Canyon Crest students, teachers, and local San Diego mentors, with one goal in common: to make positive change in the world.

On November 20, 2011, this dream materialized into what can only be described as a perfect day of inspiration, enthusiasm, and drive for the future. TEDxYouth@SanDiego unfolded in synchrony with TEDxYouthDay events in cities all over the world, with the common goal of uniting, motivating, and empowering youth.

The quad in front of Canyon Crest Academy’s theater filled with students from both public and private schools all over San Diego, eagerly awaiting a day filled with adventure. Canyon Crest’s very own Samba Band acted as the “Pied Piper” for the group of 200 students, kicking off the day with a conga line leading into the Proscenium Theater where the inspiration took place. With roughly 20 speakers, the day was split into three parts, appropriately named Adventures 1, 2, and 3. During Adventure 1, students were inspired by speakers like Tracy Lee Stum, who spoke about pursuing her passion in chalk art and the importance of doing what you love. Between adventures, there were a variety of demos allowing attendees to get a more hands-on experience with speakers.

Tracy Lee Stum created an interactive chalk art piece for attendees to be a part of — quite literally.

Peter Gilson, an educator from the San Diego Zoo, ran a biology mimicry demo (complete with its very own alligator) where he demonstrated the ways that technology continues to learn from patterns found in the environment. Large blackboards were decorated with the aspirations of attendees and parents, using many sticks of chalk.

Throughout the day, the theme of “The World in Our Grasp” resonated in every talk. Each speaker that stepped onto the stage reminded us that, even as students, we have the power to make change now — that the entire world is a resource for making a difference. While experiencing the beautiful final product of TEDxYouth@SanDiego, which was made possible after months of planning by students even more than by teachers and mentors, it was clear that we would all walk away feeling that the world really is in our grasp.

By Emily Lubomirsky, an official TEDxYouth@SanDiego reporter.

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