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Formative Years: Finding our fire with TEDxYouth

Calum Stenning and Olivia Afiabo

Our youth is not just a time to explore ourselves and push our boundaries.

It’s also a time to challenge our thinking and inform our view of the world as to what challenges our generation will face in the future.

From the global phenomenon of the TEDx brand, TEDxYouth has sprung up as a way for students and young people to independently organise TED-style talks and this weekend, TEDxYouth will be hosting a series of talks on the theme of Finding our Fire, centred around the exploration of passions and dreams, and how to follow them at Canberra College’s Performing Arts Centre.

This day of TEDxYouth, however, will be more than just talks.

“Our out-of-theatre session will be a jam-packed hour of art, engineering and entertainment,” explains executive organiser and curator, Lillian Rowland.

“We have arranged for a number of organisations to put up interactive stalls that the attendees will be able to enjoy as they wander around the venue. The main corridor will be turned into an art exhibition, featuring the works of several young Canberran artists.”

While Lillian thinks anyone who attends the presentations will benefit and leave inspired, the goal is to inspire the younger generation.

“We believe that one of the biggest issues circulating amongst the young people of today is this overwhelming apathy to the world,” says Lillian. “Young people are barraged with so much information on a day-to-day basis that we become overwhelmed – our desire is to reignite something in our attendees. We hope that in sharing the ideas of passionate people making real change that we can remind our audience that the world isn’t all about negatives.”

Executive Producer Egshiglen Chuluunhuu says it’s not just overwhelm about the future affecting young people, but uncertainly about the future itself.

“With so many uncertainties facing our generation with every part of life from the environment to the economy, we want to offer a day where we can inform and empower youth to not only accomplish their personal goals but also to make change in their community,” she says.

“Many of us are at the time where we are making decisions that will affect the rest of our lives and everyone has doubts about the future. However, by offering the chance to find an undiscovered interest, reinvigorate an ambition or make a friend, we want to give our audience the instrument of hope and confidence with which they can shape their future.”

This TEDxYouth event, in keeping with the theme, has been organised primarily by students from local schools and universities.

“With a youth-driven production, we have made sure that instead of just listening to industry professionals as part of an audience like they would in traditional seminars, attendees can have a real one-on-one conversation; instead of hearing about the latest technology, they get to try it out first-hand,” says Egshiglen.

“Essentially, rather than being told about different opportunities or issues in society, our event strived them to actively involve them in those opportunities and furthermore to become part of the solutions.”

The event will include talks from four speakers; CEO of not-for-profit organisation Country to Canberra Hannah Wandel, award-winning director Katie Bender, Joe Duggan, who is behind the ‘Is This How You Feel?’ project, aimed at bridging the gap between scientists and the general public when communicating the severity of climate change, and Hannah Feldman, a Questacon scientist developing technology and science workshops for young people.

The future is something we should all be invested in, and excited for. TEDxYouth: Finding Our Fire is an opportunity to be inspired do better, dream bigger, and know more, and hopefully, live a better future for it.

the essentials

What: TEDxYouth: Finding Our Fire
When: Sunday 19 February from 1-6pm
Cost: $20 per person
Where: Canberra College Performing Arts Centre, 2 Launceston Street, Woden

HerCanberra are proud sponsors of TEDxYouth: Finding Your Fire


Calum Stenning

Calum Stenning is Her Canberra’s newest and most male (read: only) intern. Three years spent living overseas has given him a renewed appreciation for Canberra life. Every day starts with coffee and the Sydney Morning Herald crossword at a favourite coffee haunt, as he is wary of the perils of dementia, and thinks crosswords are a viable safeguard. If he lives to a dementia-appropriate age (evidence says he won’t), he’ll let us know. More about the Author


Olivia Afiabo

Olivia grew up in Canberra before moving off to Wollongong to study creative writing at the University of Wollongong. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Creative Arts degree she returned to the Capital to pursue a career in writing and publishing. The first step in this journey has been interning at HerCanberra and, though she misses the beach, being back with family and old friends has been a welcome change. There’s nothing she loves more than reading, writing and watching football (the ‘no hands allowed’ variety). More about the Author