By Samantha W.
TEDxYouth@Hewitt PR Curator and TEDxYouthDay Reporter
“You’re going to fail. You have to adapt to failure. Be creative.” Such were the wise words of college student Brent Comstock, one of the many inspirational speakers at the 4th annual TEDxYouth@Hewitt event this weekend. Following the international theme of “What’s your spark?” we decided to break the speakers up into four different sections: Spark, Ignite and Flame. There are so many steps to making something happen. There’s the spark (the idea), ignite (the action you take to carry out your ideas) and flame (how you share it with other people). Our speakers shared how their sparks have grown from their own minds into companies, passions, careers and personal achievements and how their success has influenced and motivated the people around them.
Fashion blogger and Hewitt alumnae Sydney Sadick opened up the day with a speech about the summer program that inspired her to start a blog and how she overcame criticism, taking inspiration from her mother and focusing on finding herself through her passion. Two more Hewitt alumnae, Sofia Stafford ’13 and Alexandra Wexler ’06, also took the stage. Sofia Stafford is particularly inspired by Women’s Rights, and she told us about her work with Girl Up. Alexandra Wexler, a writer for The Wall Street Journal, shared the importance of storytelling and how it gives her the opportunity to give voices to people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
For some people, finding that spark requires a way to express yourself. Poets Malcolm Wicks and Darren Arthur performed poems with both breathtaking and funny lines that moved the audience. James Parris, a visual effects artist, talked about how he gained his inspiration from watching cartoons as a child and expressing himself through his own sketches.
To spark an idea you have to dream big. Austin Diamond, a young entrepreneur, made clear that we shouldn’t be afraid to go after our dreams. “If you’re doing what you’re really passionate about, then you can never really be wrong,” he said. Actor/Producer Jon Lee Brody offered an important look at success, explaining that it’s a lot more jumbled and twisted than we think.
Kindness can take you far. Relationships and communications expert Rachel DeAlto and Human Rights Advocate Jessica Greer Morris both presented on the power of kindness. “Lift someone up,” said Rachel DeAlto, “send them a text, a tweet or a message – let them know how awesome they are.”
Perhaps one of my favorite talks of the day was Justin LeBlanc, a Project Runway contestant whose collection was shown at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City and televised across the nation. Justin was born deaf, and he recalled the times as a child when he would bang on pots and pans, hoping to gain inspiration from a little bit of sound he might hear. Having the opportunity to speak with Justin before his speech, I can truly say that he is a very genuine and down-to-earth person with a great sense of humor. His lovely personality came through in his talk, where he gave the audience wise advice: “The bigger you think the greater you will become.”
To sum up the event in a few words? As Justin LeBlanc said, “Inspiration is not something I can give you. It is already in you…you just have to find your spark.”
Go ignite the spark within you.