TEDx Fort Wayne Initiates Student Speech Contest

by My Web Writers

Ever have a great idea and want to share it with the world? Or maybe you want to hear about other people’s ideas in technology, entertainment and design? Those three subjects are the ideas behind TED– a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Sharing.”

While TED is an international program, it also gives smaller communities the chance to share their own ideas with each other via the program “TEDx.” TEDx gives people the opportunity to share on the local level.  In Fort Wayne, Indiana, TEDx Fort Wayne invited the area’s youth to share their ideas for change via a student speech contest.

“It’s a reminder that great ideas come from everywhere,” said Craig Crook, TEDx Fort Wayne Coordinator. “I hope the student speech contest captures the attention of the folks back at TED, as engaging our youth should be incorporated at all TEDx events.”

Over 30 students submitted their entries to the speech contest via YouTube and flash drive.  The entries included a wide range of topics and ideas.  Jean Bansemer, a TEDx Fort Wayne volunteer who initiated the speech contest, said, “It’s inspiring to watch our youth speak from the heart and to articulate their ideas. A contest like this supports the schools’ and parents’ academic efforts while providing insight into what the next generation is thinking.”

TEDxFortWayne coordinators visited local schools, called and emailed local administrators and teachers, reached out to the area’s libraries, and engaged community members socially via Twitter and Facebook to get students involved. The speech requirements were for area youth to “dream big” and to explain how they want to make a difference in the community. While some entries will be included in a video presentation at TEDxFortWayne in May, other students will present their speeches in person.

High school students were encouraged to enter by submitting a three-minute video of their speech.  Elementary and middle school students submitted short essays.  Students chose from four topics: 1. Share your vision for our community, 2. Explain what you’re doing to improve our culture, 3. Tell us about your ideas for change, or 4. Show us what power really means.

Other TEDx events are held all over the globe, from Brazil, to Egypt, to China and Saudi Arabia, with each community sharing its own ideas in different ways.

Crook has enjoyed seeing what Fort Wayne students have come up with, and hopes the speech contest will catch on in other communities.  He believes there are many reasons students should participate in such a contest.

“Having a chance to actively participate in the future, letting your voice be heard, realizing that you are never too young to create and engage with things that matter,” Crook said, “those are all good reasons to enter.”  Winners of the 2012 student speech contest will be announced within the next week.

Update- 4/16/2012:

A panel of TEDx Fort Wayne judges, who reviewed over 30 YouTube and essay entries, recently selected winners and honorable mentions for this year’s “Re-Think Fort Wayne” contest.  Students were asked to voice their ideas, dreams, and vision for their communities, country, and world via a writing and speech contest.

High school speech winners include: Neisha Freshly, with “Teenage Power”; Erin Purcell, “Equine Assisted Therapy”; and Rachel Shie, “Teenage Depression.”  All three students attend New Tech Academy in Fort Wayne.  Eighth grader, Natalie Brown, from Carroll Middle School, wrote the winning middle school essay- “Fort Wayne: Fulfilling One Dream at a Time.”

Mitch Bleich, Derek Dalman, Hannah Dorian, Breon Johnson, David Lehman, Quinasha McCall, Benjamin Perose, Yamin Thu each receive honorable mentions as speech contest runners-up.  All of these students will be featured in a video montage, during the May 19, 2012 TEDx Fort Wayne event.  Attendees will have opportunities to visit student tables to discuss the students’ areas of interest in between sessions.

TEDxFortWayne organizer Craig D. Crook said, “The theme for TEDxFortWayne 2012 is Re-Think Fort Wayne.  We invited area youth to dream BIG and they did!”

Contest coordinator, Jean Bansemer, added, “It was difficult for judges to narrow down entries to winners and honorable mentions.  The dreams and hopes of all the students really impressed the judges.  Come to the event and listen to what these young people have to say about rethinking Fort Wayne and the future.”

TEDx Fort Wayne will be held on May 19, 2012 from 9am- 5pm at the Cinema Center (437 Berry Street).  Tickets for this non-for-profit event can be purchased at Tedxfortwayne.com.

~Natalie

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