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Packer Weekly: TEDxYouth joins summer event lineup

Jon Pacella talks with a small group. Photo by Arimeta Diop

From downtown offices to coffee shops, the organizing group behind the upcoming TEDxYouth event assembles on a regular basis to ensure the success of the occasion.

They do that by guaranteeing featured speakers enjoy their experience in Fargo or brainstorming exciting adventures for the public.

TEDxYouth events are similar in the general sense to their TEDTalks and TEDx counterparts, but are specifically catered to young or youth-centric audiences. The upcoming youth event includes both adult and student organizers. This age range allows the team of organizers to have a unique opinion on how the event should be viewed.

“Instead of calling ourselves a speaking conference, we like to call ourselves a community engagement event because [the event] is less about hearing people talk and more about being involved in our community,” Mark Staples, a team member and student at Harvard University, said.

The organizing group, given their variety of ages, is well aware of topics that will intrigue their youth audiences but also recognize the shortfalls that come with young people when put in such a situation.

“A lot of youth do not network with one another,” Nathan Ascheman, a team member and student at Concordia said. “Even though we are not focused on getting them to network, the breaks and after party and adventures will sort of force them to network with other people and that will have the potential to lead them to find something they are passionate about.”

Some of those ice-breaking adventures would include downtown bike tours, a STEM sampler, a scavenger hunt and more.

Then during break sessions, performances by local youth take place. Performances will be sourced from young artists to better get across the aspect of youth innovation, a key component of this event.

“Being as Fargo is such a bustling and growing community with a great deal of opportunity, we get to harness that, and cultivate it and encourage students and people around our age to take advantage of [those opportunities],” Jon Pacella, a team member and student at the University of Minnesota, said. “Which is so great and that’s why we’re volunteers: to inspire even kids younger than us.”

The 2014 theme of TEDxYouth@Fargo is “On Purpose.”

While breaks, adventures and the after party are all fun and exciting for the public, it is really the speakers which will convey this message in a relatable manner. This is really because the speakers are also young, similar to their audience counterparts, and better able to connect to their viewers in that sense.

“All of our speakers are talking about, in some way, how really they found their purpose,” Kirsten Henagin, a team member and student at Concordia, said. “It is about finding that path and going for it.”

One of the featured speakers is Andrina Brogden, a West Fargo High graduate who is well-known for her appearance on the singing competition “American Idol.” Brogden plans on singing as well as utilizing her experience on the reality show to express her personal take on the theme.

“As of now, the way I am taking it is that things happen for a reason and things happen on purpose,” Brogden said. “My topic revolves around young people and working on our dreams. I think the story of it will be relatable.”

TEDxYouth is scheduled for July 25 and the team behind it is excited to share with the Fargo community all they have done to bring the youth a thrilling, inspiring and informative event.

“Being involved in this is really cool and seeing how the Fargo community does come together to create something for the youth to get them involved at their age,” Henagin said. “This [event] is created by the youth for the youth.”

“A lot of our speakers are much younger, very connected and in the same place as where our guests will be in their lives,” Staples said.