Kids Take Charge at TEDx Redmond

If you have never visited the widely celebrated TED website, let me elaborate on what it is before you continue reading this good news story.  TED began in 1984 as a conference convening top thinkers from the design, technology and entertainment sectors. Today, the nonprofit is devoted to broadly defined “Ideas Worth Spreading.”  You can attend the organization’s events around the world and watch the speakers elaborate on their discoveries in person, or, you can watch these advanced thinkers right from your own home on their website (  This year’s lineup has included director James Cameron, celebrity chef and food revolutionary Jamie Oliver, singer Natalie Merchant, behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman and Adora, a young literary prodigy.  Adora’s love of writing led her not only to pen more than 250,000 words at age 7, but also to take up the cause of literacy. TED invited the Washington-Stater to speak in February. She delivered “What Adults Can Learn from Kids.”

Now, child prodigies of various stripes take to the podiums at the kid-organized, kid-attended TEDx Redmond, held on Microsoft’s campus in Washington.  The inspirational organizer Adora Svitak, 12, isn’t speaking at TEDx Redmond, though her experience delivering her TED talk inspired her to organize the event.  What kids can learn from kids seemed a natural next step. The TEDx format allows independent organizers to host their own TED-inspired conferences.  “When I spoke at TED, I realized that conference stages, even those of very innovative ones like TED, rarely play host to youth,” Adora told AOL News. “Yet, I knew that we had a lot to share.   “By taking what everyone loves about TED – the spirit of discussion, sharing and innovation, and starting TEDx Redmond, I wanted to make a change from our typically adult-centric world and give kids a chance to speak and share their opinions, expressions, voices and, ultimately, their ‘ideas worth spreading.'”

Adora scoured the Internet and queried acquaintances to come up with today’s TEDx roster, which not only features Perry and AOL artist Oliva Bouler, but also a young entrepreneur, an anti-bullying crusader, a race car drive and a tribal interpreter, Cayle Diefenbach.  Cayle, 16, is a rodeo rider, wrestler, middle school student and amateur Native American historian.  He’s translated young people’s books from English into native tongues and works with the Colville (Washington) Tribal History and Archaeology Program to reclaim tribal artifacts, making sure they are identified and preserved for future generations. Cayle’s passion for his own culture inspired his upcoming talk.  “I will be talking about the importance of culture and how it influences daily life,” he told AOL News. “I think that kids at the conference will be able to bring closer a sense of identity by learning to accept and embrace their heritage.”

Movie reviewer Perry Chen found summer fantasy flick “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” entertaining, though weighted down by extraneous special effects. ‘’The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ is about love, friendship, adventure, and the risks and rewards of magical power,” Chen wrote in his column for the San Diego Entertainer. “It has fantasy, visually stunning actions, romance and great humor.” Final verdict: four starfish. This award-winning reviewer adopted a five-starfish system because he believed it would be more appealing to viewers like himself, a 10-year-old kid.  Chen will speak along with the other 12 child prodigies.  He is the youngest speaker on tap and will encourage his audience to reach for their potential now.  “In my talk I will say you can achieve your dream if you work hard enough,” he told AOL News. “All of the speakers are older than I am. That’s why I’m telling everybody that you’re never too young to start. Every child has something special and unique.”

Jessica Markowitz, 15, (former good news spotlight – has embraced a group of girls from a culture very different from her own.  The high school freshman and her family hosted Rwandan Richard Kananga in 2006. He told her horrifying tales of the 1994 civil war and the many children orphaned by genocide. “I was so saddened by his stories that I asked Richard what I can do to help,” Markowitz told AOL News.  He suggested she reach out to girls living in rural Rwanda. She recruited school friends, who operate under the name Richard’s Rwanda. “For four years, we have been fundraising for school fees, school supplies, shoes and lunch. We have held bake sales, car washes, selling apparel, and special events to raise money.  “We have additionally applied for several grants. We continuously send letters and art supplies to the girls in Nyamata. We want to make sure we maintain a strong friendship even if they live across the world.”  Jessica, who hopes to join the Peace Corps after college, will speak about “the power of one” this weekend.  “I believe youth can positively impact and contribute so much to make the world a better place,” she said. “Once you find your passion, go for it!”

To read more on each child TEDx speaker and their empowering inspirations, visit:



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