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TedxYouth@TampaBay Highlights Area Youth

A half-day conference on Sunday will showcase people in the community making a positive difference.

On Sunday, likeminded change-makers from across the Tampa Bay area will come together at the Carrollwood Cultural Center to talk about their ideas under the theme “Dream Big Then Do.”

The event, TEDxYouth@TampaBay founded by Terri Willingham, is the third annual conference of its kind and is recommended for attendees 10 and older.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading." Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives.

TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, and Sir Richard Branson.

Local, self-organized events are branded TEDx. The "x" equals an independently organized TED event.

“In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience,” the TED website states.

During the half-day youth conference here in Tampa, dynamic young speakers and performers will take to the stage to share their passions. Their challenge is to give a talk or performance that provokes thought, conversation and action.

Todd Dunkle, development and marketing director for the Carrollwood Cultural Center is proud that the center was able to support the Tedx program.

 “This is our first involvement with this program and I'm very excited that we are able to host.  The variety of talent and creativity these young people are bringing to the Center will surely offer just as much inspiration for adults as it will for other young people in our community,” he said. 

Willingham is a board member for Learning is for Everyone (LI4E), an education nonprofit she founded about six years ago. She was inspired to start the TedxYouth@TampaBay event, after attending TedxTampaBay in 2010.

“I’ve always been a big TED  fan,” Willingham said. “Sitting in a room with like-minded people who enjoy listening to fascinating ideas, I wondered what it would be like to do this event with young people..."

Willingham thought TEDx was a perfect vehicle for inspiring young people, and was delighted to learn that TED supported TEDx events for youth.

LI4E secured the very first TEDxYouth event license in Florida in 2010 and hosted their inaugural event at New Port Richey Library. In 2011, the conference was held at  St. Pete College – Seminole. This year they chose Carrollwood Cutural Center for her third showcase.

“The Carrollwood Cultural Center is a natural fit for TEDxYouth@TampaBay, a community gem that provides a beautiful and creative forum for people of all ages to showcase their art, vision and talent.  We’re very grateful to the Carrollwood Cultural Center for making their facility available for this event.”

Paul Berg, executive director for Carrollwood Cultural Center was honored to be hosting the event this year.  

“We are thrilled to have a generation of individuals that are excited about making a positive change to their lives and the community,” he said.

Once the conference team selects a theme, presenters are chosen in a variety of ways. While some TEDx programs seek only experienced and well known presenters, the Tampa Bay event makes it a point to seek out young people who may never have done anything like a TEDx event, but who are doing powerful, game changing and inspiring things in their communities, and in their own lives.  

“TEDxYouth@TampaBay team members make recommendations throughout the year, and we keep our eye on the local news, reaching out to youth we feel have something important to say or share,” Willingham said. "This is an opportunity to hear and celebrate forward thinking young people, to showcase their voice and vision, and to shine the public light on the future we want instead of the one we dread.”

This year’s presenters are:

  • 15 year old Matthew Temmer, returning to TEDxYouth@TampaBay 2012 as our Emcee this year, after sharing one of their most popular talks last year.  Matthew, 15, is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Land O Lakes High School.  A formerly shy student, Matthew found his voice in art, and found that other young people were grateful for an opportunity to be heard, too. 
  • Tim Arnold is a University of Central Florida Marketing senior and self-described innovator and disrupter.  Arnold made national headlines this past summer,  after being punished by the University for developing a registration enhancement web service called “U Could Finish.” Later, UCF retroactively  improved their website with features similar to the ones Arnold employed.  Arnold is a former FIRST robotics team member, who credits the program for shaping him and building his tech interests, and inspire him to think innovatively.
  • Elizabeth Baker returns to TEDxYouth@TampaBay 2012, and to her classical music roots. Ms. Baker has studied piano with Steinway Artist Dr. Luis Sanchez, Carolyn McGovern, Eileen Mattioli, Andrew McCardle, and currently studies with Jeff Donovick.  Miss Baker has performed in master classes on classical guitar for Jason Vieaux and Dr. Stephen Robinson. She has also played her solo piano compositions in master class for Larry Groupe, who referred to her work as “Perfect.” comparing one of her compositions to the level of Debussy’s Engulfed Cathedral.
  • Davida A. Bowen was born and raised in Philly,  and has been producing music ever since stepping into a basement studio in 1994. As a singer, she has performed on many stages throughout her hometown, in New York City and in Tampa, FL. She first launched the concept for StudiYo For Kids in 2008 as a music production class while working as an instructor for the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program in East  Tampa. In 2011, she founded The StudiYo Inc., matching her passion for music with her love for children.
  • Carissa Caricato and Sarah Page call themselves the “Hoola Girls”, and their organization, Hoola for Happiness is dedicated to “Spreading Joy to the World, One Hoop at a Time, One Life at a Time.” Though their nonprofit is Tampa-based, Page and Caricato take their hoops and missionary work on the road and across the seas in unique way to bring people together in a joyful way.
  • Spencer Opal Levine made headlines a the youngest student ever to win the Blank Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival in Hollywood, CA.   He was nine at the time. Now 10, he’ll be sharing his creative story.
  • Natasha Nascimento was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has lived in Florida for the last ten years. Her diverse life experience inspired her to find ways to serve others in need.  She has found her voice and compassionate vision in Redefining Refuge, an organization dedicated to fighting for women and children who have been victims of human trafficking.  Redefining Refuge has active participants spanning from Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and across the United States .
  • Connor Wilson now a rising sixth grader, was not quite nine years old when he sat down to write his first book, A Giant Pencil. Today, Connor is the youngest traditionally published fiction writer in America.

"We hope everyone, but especially youth, will walk away with the understanding that each and every one of us is significant and powerful," Willingham said. "Kids hear all the time that 'just one person can make a difference,' and that they should 'reach for the stars' and 'believe in yourself,'  But how often do they get to hear, first hand, from other young people who have successfully done just that?"

Seating is limited to 100 and approximately 40 tickets are available for a requested donation of $5 per person, and $3 for youth 12 and under. If you are interested in sponsoring or partnering with TedxYouth@TampaBay, email info@learningis4everyone.org or call 813.728.2822. The organization welcomes  financial contributions to help defray event expenses, and in-kind contributions of services like printing, videography and signage. 

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