Afshin Rohani reports:
This weekend saw youth around the world gather under the banner of TEDxYouthDay, in the heart of East London the fountain of YOUth was overflowing with ideas.
Gathering in a cosy theatre in Hackney, youth from London prepared themselves for an array of talks and artistic presentations in what was the second annual TedxYouthDay.
It was one of hundreds events organised by volunteers worldwide to coincide with Universal Children’s Day, the theme of the day being a reminder of how precious young people are to society.
With a local line up of speakers who are either working with youth or youth themselves, themes such as; crime, mentoring, the arts, death and bullying were explored through compelling perspectives.
Setting the tone for this unique creative space was the story of the ‘Children’s Fire’, an ancient symbol of future generations that used to be lit to keep them in mind when leaders were deliberating important matters.
In times where we question the social and economic empowerment of the young, it served as a call for greater awareness of the needs of those who future society ultimately depends on.
As George Turner relates in his work combating gang culture, the most consistent role model for some youth living in inner-cities is the drug dealer on the street, when there is little empathy towards the causes of suffering the justice system remains at odds with the ‘underclass’.
In a very profound use of her initiative, teacher Charlotte Young mentions how a mentoring scheme for low-income school girls gave a very tangible way for them to realise why and how they should not settle for careers that do not tap into their true potential.
Throughout the different topics, volunteering was a key phrase, with it being identified that everyone has experiences that make them eligible for this role and the learning gained from such work being invaluable.
A brave example is Alex Jones’s venture into tackling the rise of growing xenophobia in Britain, his solution, creative activism in the form of hijacking the language of hate by repurposing the English Defence League (EDL) to represent the: English Disco Lovers.
The unifying aspect of music also hits home for PoeJazzi’s Joshua Idehen, with a reminder that if you hate poetry you probably “haven’t heard the right poetry”, his upcoming mobile app aims to give poetry (particularly spoken word) a new voice.
One aspect that is often overlooked when thinking of youth, is the prospect of aging, Louise Ellaway’s existential thoughts into the care of the elderly, who are often neglected and disconnected with the young, provoked the audience to see how the next frontier of life can also become an opportunity for meaningful exchanges.
Before closing the forum, homophobic bullying was addressed, sadly it is very much alive today and an issue that potentially affects everyone, Sean Dellenty’s courageous work into educating educators in-light of his own experiences aims to prevent future abuse.
Feeling moved, reflective and invigorated by opportunities that are out there to safeguard the interests of youth, the day’s closing was also the beginning of exciting new community collaborations however big or small.
Until next time TEDx.
To share your ideas and learn more connect with TEDxHackney.