TedxYouth comes to Austin

Emma-Rose Floyd, News Editor

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TedxYouth, a spin-off event of Tedx made exclusively for teens and pre-teens, came to Austin for the third consecutive year this past Saturday. Over 1,000 people attended, and the five-hour event at Westlake HIgh School.

“All of the stories were really unique and really powerful.” junior Megan Mowad said. “The stories were all able to express the character of the speaker and move the audience to a better tomorrow.”

The event consisted of several speeches from successful and interesting people, such as UT’s Professor Dumpster, or Jeff Wilson, who related his experiment of living in a dumpster-turned-house for a year, and all of the challenges and knowledge that came with that experience. He also brought his dumpster house to XLabs, an hour-long break between talks where the attendees can do hands-on activities and interact with the speakers.

“Professor Dumpster was one of my favorites because I loved the way his mind formulated the ideas to successfully live in his dumpster,” Mowad said.

Another speaker was Evelyn Apoko, a former child slave for the Lords Resistance Army, led by Kony in Uganda, gave a captivating speech about her time in captivity, and how after a bomb exploded feet from her, she lost all use of her lips. Apoko arrived in the United States in 2001 and underwent surgery several times by 2011. She told the audience what it was like to arrive in America not knowing any English and having to navigate on her own. She has been interviewed many times, by several popular newspapers and even Oprah, and is currently working with the city in getting an exchange program with Ugandan students. After she had finished telling her story, the entire auditorium erupted into applause, everyone standing and showing their admiration to Apoko.

“Her story was quite moving and has caused me to want to research more on the wars in Africa because I really have no knowledge about the conflict going on there,” junior Holly Hodge said.

Another outstanding speaker was the performer Ocean Pleasant. The 17-year-old from Austin who made her musical debut this year, and has recently toured with Michael Franti and Spearhead, the band SOJA, Brett Dennen and Trevor Hall. She also is the editor at RealTeen Magazine, a publication she created that mimics ones like People, but there is a twist. The layout of the magazine is like a popular magazine, with famous people featured on the cover and hard-hitting issues as the basis for the story content. She explained her magazine for most of her talk, but at the end she picked up her guitar and sang a song she had recently written.

“All of her accomplishments were inspirational for me and I think it showed some of the younger kids there that the possibilities of being a teenager aren’t limited,” Hodge said.
The event is coming back next year, and all wishing to attend should go to the Tedx website to apply. All attendees must have four hours of community service work and a desire to learn about new things and to have fun.