Local teens organize eighth annual TEDxYouth event

Nine speakers participated in TEDxYouth emphasizing on the theme, “Escaping the Echo Chamber” on Sept. 29.

A couple of hours before the event, Redmond teens prepared for the big event that had taken months of planning. This year, they featured nine speakers who touched on the theme, “Escaping the Echo Chamber.”

TEDxYouth president Vivek Dutta, who is a senior in high school, said his favorite part of this event is the buildup to the day of the event.

“The best part of the of the event has to be on the day of the event — one or two hours right before the event has started,” he said. “Seeing all the different various parts that we’ve worked on for the past six to eight months finally come together. Seeing everything come together, the combination of all our work, everyone being happy and having a great time — that has to be the most satisfying aspect of this entire process.”

The event was completely planned and organized by local youth. The organizing committee is made up of juniors and seniors in high school. Together, they chose various speakers according to their speech topic, speech cadence and diversity. The organizers focused on selecting youth who empower other youth. They also focused on featuring Redmond speakers but welcomed anyone who was interested in speaking.

Nine speakers were featured at the Sept. 29 event. The speakers included Daryle Hawkins, Eshika Saxena, Roshan Nair, Dianna Voronin, Bella Chang, Anshul Ahluwalia, Christine Dias, Bitanyia Giday and Shravya Kakulamarri. There were also special performances from the Redmond High School dance club, Claire Maurer and Jeffrey Day.

Hawkins, a Nike apparel graphic designer, who spoke at TEDxYouth event, is an Omaha, Nebraska native and a former wide receiver for the University of Oregon. He is an advocate for young athletes exploring creative fields, as he was the first athlete from UO to graduate with a bachelor of fine arts and product design.

“I really like the idea of solving big problems. The uniform is a good fun space that we can innovate in,” Hawkins said. “I definitely love the research phase. The way that we deep dive and how we research teams is almost like we get to learn some of those stories and urban legends of the schools. We’re talking to the equipment staff, the locals legends, and the shops that have been there for 50 years and then trying to bring those secrets to life and make that speak through a uniform.”

Hawkins encouraged listeners to never doubt what’s possible.

“Wherever there’s a boundary that you see holding your life, or that you come up against, don’t be afraid to question that,” he said. “Don’t ever doubt what’s possible. Don’t be afraid of the pressure, no matter how intense it is. Things can change.”

Another speaker Kakulamarri, is a junior at Rice University studying health sciences, global health technologies and biochemistry.

The Redmond native immersed herself in the field of global and public health to better understand medical issues within the United States and around the world.

Kakulamarri said she used to attend TEDxYouth events growing up and now she had the opportunity to speak at the event.

“I think it’s really cool that I now get to speak in front of all these people. I used to be one of them,” Kakulamarri said about the audience. “We are the future. Having all these incredible people put together the event and also having students talk about something they’re passionate about, is a great opportunity. It’s great that it’s a youth conference.”

Kakulamarri shared her experiences at the Hospital de Câncer de Barretos in Brazil and her goal to help decrease diabetes in Hispanic and Latino populations in Brownsville, Texas. Kakulamarri and her team developed insulin dosing clips for patients who are unable to read the numbers on the insulin syringes or people who are blind. They came up with a color coded device that attaches to the insulin syringe, which helps patients know how many units to take.

“Often times we’re focused abroad but you don’t realize that there’s just as many people here who are struggling,” Kakulamarri said.