TEDxYouth Park City nurtures changemakers and gives students a platform to share ideas
Auditions will be held April 13-14
Since 2012, TEDxYouth Park City talks by area students have garnered more than 1.2 million views on YouTube, and Teri Orr would like to add more students to the mix.
The TEDxPark City event organizer will host an open TEDxYouth audition for students in grades 10-12 at 3:30 p.m. on April 13 and 14 at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center at Park City High School.
Pre-registration is mandatory, and audition applications may be accessed by visiting tedxparkcity.org.
“The auditions, which are free, are not limited to just Park City School District students,” Orr said. “It is open to any local youth, ages 13-19, regardless of where they attend school. We are looking to have at least 12 speakers.”
Although the auditions will be done in person, with COVID-19 protocols in place, the actual TEDxYouth Park City will be presented virtually on May 19. Per TED rules, video recordings are made of all talks and will be uploaded to the TEDxYouth YouTube channel.
“We decided to do that because we don’t know what the world will be like at that time,” Orr said.
Students don’t have to audition with something meticulously memorized, according to Orr.
“We don’t want them to come in rehearsed,” she said. “We just want them to show us an idea they feel is worth sharing, and tell us why they feel it’s worth sharing. The topic can be about anything — social issues, a pet turtle.”
If the topic isn’t compelling enough, Orr said she and her volunteer crew will work with the students to come up with another topic.
Topics aside, one of the main things TEDxYouth focuses on is “presentation literacy,” Orr said.
“It’s about how you present yourself matters so much as you go into the world,” she said. “It’s about whether or not you can stand up and deliver, and that helps you with every aspect of your life.”
Selected speakers will spend several weeks learning, “through speaking exercises and coaching, to communicate big ideas in a concise format.”
“We also will help them with how they dress and how they will use their hands,” she said. “We will also coach them about facing the camera and the audience.”
TEDxYouth Park City bloomed three years after Orr began hosting TED events in Park City in 2009.
TED stands for technology, entertainment and design, and it’s an organization that is on a mission to foster critical thinking, Orr said.
“TEDxParkCity received one of the first 100 TEDx licenses issued by TED in 2009 with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Orr said. “Today, there are more than 3,800 TEDx licenses globally. So, we are part of a giant, wonderful organization that lets each organizer come up with events that fit their communities.”
In 2012, Orr came up with the idea of hosting a TEDx event where speakers would give presentations to local youths.
“I heard someone on the East Coast had done one,” she said. “I called them to see how they did it, because it was exciting to think about helping and presenting something for students.”
The first TEDxYouth Park City event featured Larry Cesspooch of the Ute Nation, artists John Helton and Park City-based singer, songwriter and composer Mary Beth Maziarz.
“Larry did an origin story about Native Americans, and John talked about his career as an artist,” Orr said. “Mary Beth talked about her music and what inspires her songs.”
Akin to other TEDx events, the Park City presentation followed the adult TED format that included breaks, mingling and meals, Orr said.
“We had some great activities in the lobby that included a display about ‘things you want to do before you turn 25,’ which is a variation of the TED concept of ‘things you want to do before you die,’” she said.
Then Orr heard about a TEDx program in New Orleans that was done by youths.
“We were able to see that one in real time, and decided to do one modeled after that,” she said.
“When I heard about this other group who had students be the speakers, I wanted to model something like that. We auditioned kids and they came up with amazing topics on their own.”
One student presented a poem that compared love to quantum physics, and a number of students talked about the importance of music in their lives and then did a short performance, Orr said.
Throughout the years, TEDxYouth Park City has served as a safe place for local students to talk about life’s challenges.
“We had one young man who came out on our stage with his TED talk, and another young woman talked about her addiction issues with drugs and alcohol,” she said. “One presentation was by a student with special needs, and we all fell in love with him.”
Other presentations have included sports talks.
“Park City is unique because we have students who are involved in regular high school sports, but we also have students involved in ski racing and ski jumping,’” Orr said.
In the last few years, a growing number of Latino students have taken the TEDxYouth stage.
“They have talked about what it’s like to be a person of color, living in Park City,” Orr said. “They have talked about the challenges they face, one of which is wanting to go to college. In fact, one of our Latinx speakers used her TEDx presentation to get into Utah Valley University.”
Orr credits the community for the ongoing success of TEDxYouth Park City.
“We live in a place where we want our students to have their own voices, and we want everyone to have the chance,” she said. “TEDxYouth Park City has proven to be a lesson for students in the value of sharing powerful ideas, and to become aware of their potential as changemakers in our community. The opportunity to share these ideas, live, has never been more important.”
When: 3:30 p.m. on April 13 and 14
Where: Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
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