JeJuan Stewart, a leader in the TED-Ed Student Talks program from Georgia, answered that call by hosting TEDxYouth@Snellville, a COUNTDOWN event in her community. JeJuan shares her experience and advice for hosting a stellar, youth-centered TEDx event that focused on the problems and solutions of the climate crisis.
Our initial ideas were to:
Bring Black and Brown youth together around the issue of climate change
Expose them to Black and Brown climate change activists in our community
Share our EAGLE 7 TED-Ed Club experience (within the TED-Ed Student Talks program) with them so interested students could join our Club for the following school year
Our event took place at the Emory University School of Public Health. The location was provided by the sponsors of the Black Public Health Students at the Rollins School of Public Health and was hosted by Snellville residents Briana Boykin, non-profit founder and former member of Black Public Health Students at Emory RSPH, and Joshua Stewart, who performed spoken word during the event.
Talks were given by several climate change community activists, including three Black founders of organizations:
Environmental justice activist and founder of Millennials 4 Environmental Justice Diamond Spratling spoke about the wonders of the environment
Environmental educator and organizer of Black Birders Week Sheridan Alford spoke about birds as an indicator species to the environment
STEM educator and leader Horace Buddoo spoke about why K-12 education is our best hope for action on our climate dilemma
Health scientist from Michigan Public Health Sabina Emerenini spoke about cardiovascular disease, environmental health and her experience as a Black woman
Founders of BLKHLTH Matthew McCurdy and Khadijah Ameen spoke about how environmental justice is racial health justice
Program Director of Eagles Educational Services/SFAYC John Reed spoke about carbon footprints and teens
Head of the Chad Livsey Project Chad Livsey spoke about community activism and his passion for maintaining clean communities through conducting Pop-Up environmental clean ups throughout Metro-Atlanta
Before the event, I spoke to each one of our speakers about their topic and determined how and if they would be relatable to high school students. I encouraged them to consider approaching their work from the position of empowering students. What would they say to their younger selves? How do they see youth impacting climate change?
Our EAGLE 7 TED-Ed Club Students were involved in the promotion through social media for the event. They assisted with registration, set-up, and sponsored tables throughout the event. They earned volunteer hours for their time. Through supporting this event, they have a better idea of what to expect in the future, as well as ideas to help them design their own Talks for the Spring event.
Seeing everyone engaged and excited about the content. We also had break out discussions for everyone to meet each other and speak with the sponsors at their tables. Most of the after-event comments were centered around how we can continue the dialog and engage even more youth in the conversation for future events.
Educators are a critical component to this because they can bring balance and wisdom to the table by the way they facilitate discussions and enable youth to develop into the servant-leaders they can be.
For those of you who want to step in to the experience of hosting a TEDxYouth event, I offer these words of advice:
Plan early. Give yourself time to review the links and supports that are available on the TEDx site. There are so many resources, chats, and videos to help you.
Create a planning team and delegate the tasks. Use a project managing system to help you keep up with communications between team members (IE Slack, Asana)
Connect with local TEDx organizers in your community. They can be a huge support for speakers, logistics, sponsors, and more!
Pay for videographer, editing services, and marketing services if you are able to! Alternatively, if you have access to a school with an audio/visual instructor that can provide you with student assistants for the event, it can be like a great “On-the-Job-Training” experience for them. It will allow them to earn credits for school, volunteer hours, and experience for their portfolios.
Have speakers sign their paperwork prior to the event. (Ideally, during the 1st meeting!)
Enjoy the journey. Have a sense of humor and stay humble. Your patience will be tested and once you get the first TEDx event completed, take a deep breath and pause. Because believe it or not, you may find yourself applying to do another!
Interested in learning more? Check out TED-Ed Student Talks Program, COUNTDOWN, and how to host a TEDxYouth Event.
JeJuan D. Stewart is entrepreneur, parent coach, community leader, STEAM advocate, and a retired anesthetist of Snellville, GA. As the CEO of EAGLE 7 Consulting, she is committed to empowering all to give, lead and excel through servant-leadership development and training. EAGLE 7 TED Ed Club was started in 2014 in an effort to empower youth voices and provide access to underrepresented students of color to TED Ed Clubs.