In Santa Barbara, students have many chances to hear from accomplished adults through their high school and other extracurricular programs. However, it is rare that teenagers get to hear from other talented teenagers about their ideas and discoveries. This idea to give teens the opportunity to hear from other teens is what inspired TEDxYouth@TheFunkZone. San Marcos High School juniors Zoe Reifel and Gaby Goldberg began working on this “by teens, for teens” event in May of 2015 and finally saw its success on Sunday, April 10. True to its motto, the event was entirely run by teenagers as the producers, speakers, volunteers, and most of the guests were teens.
“The process of organizing the event was pretty stressful but also very rewarding,” said Gaby Goldberg, “It was our first time putting on any type of event, so we had to learn how to get donations from sponsors, find speakers, and create content for our website/social media pages. I’m really glad I learned the skills I did because I know they’ll help me in the future.”
Students gathered at the Narrative Loft in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone to hear from speakers, enjoy light snacks, listen to live music, and mingle with other teenagers. The event featured four speakers: Kendrick Chavez, James Roney, Nik Poussette Harger, and Jessie Lindsey. Each gave a talk on different subjects, ranging from science to music to entrepreneurship. Each talk related to the idea that they did not let their age deter them from reaching their goals. The first speaker was Kendrick Chavez, who spoke about the power of being a teenager, goal-setting, believing in yourself, and going after goals. He was followed by James Roney who discussed how his science fair project reached the White House, and how it can be beneficial to approach big problems by dealing with one small part at a time. After a short break, Nik Pousette Harger returned to talk about the power of music and how much it influences the community and our lives. He was followed by Jessie Lindsey, who talked about how failure is your best option and how optimism is essential to reaching goals. Each speaker’s presentation was eloquent and well prepared, which goes to show just how successful youth can be.
TEDxYouth@TheFunkZone is affiliated with the non-profit 501(c)3 organization Santa Barbara Speaks, which works to put on event such as this one. In the future, they hope to put on more events similar to this one, so that they can continue to provide a platform for innovative teenagers to speak.
“I encourage all local teenagers to reach out to either Zoe or me and see how they can get involved with Santa Barbara Speaks,” said Gaby. “The entire experience is extremely rewarding and I’d love to share the lessons I learned with other teenagers who are passionate about spreading ideas within the community.”
If you are interested in speaking or hearing what other teenagers have to say, stay tuned for more information about coming events.