Students from local High School attend live TEDx event

Students from Uniondale HS and their Teacher Mr. O’Sullivan

The internet came alive for a group of local high school students as they attended a TEDx event at Adelphi University.
TED is a nonprofit organization whose tagline proclaims “Ideas worth spreading”. Their talks, of 18 minutes or less, gather today’s thinkers and doers on various subjects. The internet has been a popular vehicle for the talks as a quick link connects a user to a YouTube video. TEDx, is a program of local, self-organized events for a TED like experience. The benefit of locally targeted events is the theme can reflect more of the community and the speakers are recruited from the community.
The theme for the TEDx March 31st event was health. Talks were focused on a variety of topics surrounding medical and mental health issues.
Tedx is the extension of the Ted Talks brand. In 15 minute segments, speakers engage the audience on a topic and their experience. For the Adelphia event, the theme was health. The speakers who convened for the day spoke to issues of medical and mental health. The event also brought in Ted talks via video link on the same subject.
Kaitlinn Estevez courageously spoke of her journey with mental health issues, about being institutionalized and offered various new ways individuals can support those in the recovery process. Dr. Jeffery Reynods addressed Long Islands heroin crisis and how it solve it. Dr. Stephen Shore, a Professor at Adelphia, talked about the power of Austism and offered individual ways in which they might shift their perspective on how those with autism comprehend their surroundings.
The event was held in Adelphia’s Performing Arts Center. The multiple segment program, which was livestreamed, moved swiftly and didn’t provide many conversational breaks. Speakers were intersperd with TED videos that complemented the health theme. At midday, lunch was provided to attendees as a part of their ticket price. It was an opportunity to finally talk about and share the talks with other attendees.
Luncheon was buffet style and family seating, a perfect environment for conversation. Students who attended were from Uniondale High School where they are freshmen. They were dispersed throughout the cafeteria at various luncheon tables giving them an opportunity to meet and be engaged by other attendees.
It had the desired effect. Students revealed their favorite speakers from the morning session and why. Jyair Hatchett and Juan Martinez enjoyed Brooks Fredrick’s talk titled ‘From Harm to Harmony’. The talk was about the power to transform tragedies into celebration as a means of healing with others. Both students enjoyed the humor the speaker injected via a song he played on a ukulele.
Lunch was also an opportunity to meet the speakers as they mingled with the crowd. While the students were too shy to approach the speakers, they were forthcoming about their attendance that day.
“We watch TED talks in class,” said Courtney Barron.
Watching TED in class, students wondered if they could see a live show. Their teacher, John O’Sullivan, investigated whether the class would be able to do just that when he found this program.
“As students of science research, they have to learn how to give presentations,” said Mr. O’Sullivan. They have to learn to defend themselves and their work,” he said. TED talks is a way the teacher helps to inspire and motivate their students. Their schools Research/Science Department sponsored the students’ trip. Students were given the VIP treatment that day. There were allowed for photo opportunities and staffers were glad to have local students be a part of the audience.
The afternoon was a recap with more speakers on the same theme. Kelley Lynn gave a TEDx talk on the mental health implications when individuals are told to deal with their grief by moving on. Tara Funk was a living example in her TEDx talk called “Surviving a Brain Injury.”
While it may be unknown for years how the day will impacted the students, it was clear they had takeaways from the day.
Katie Duffy Schumacher TEDx talked on mindfulness and the need for technology’s to have a proper place in society. She was particularly concerned for the younger generation who she believed misses the nuances and gestures that come with face-to-face communication. The screen has become a barrier to real connection. The effects of social media posts going viral have changed the way the younger generation experiences bullying, shame and embarrassments. During lunch, one of the students took out his cell phone and began to play a game. He was laughingly reprimanded by the other students to be mindful. “Spend time with us”, he was urged.