Local Students Tackle Tough Issues at TEDXYouth@Jacksonville

March 6, 2020
Jacksonville, FL

On Tuesday, March 3rd, six Duval County teens tackled complicated and critical issues at the first TEDxYouth@Jacksonville conference. The event’s theme was “Rise,” and the students discussed topics ranging from mental health to climate change. More than 250 people attended the event, held at the Florida Blue Conference Center.

Sabeen Perwaiz, event organizer and executive producer for TEDxJacksonville, kicked off the conference. DCPS Superintendent Diana Greene gave opening remarks, and  DCPS Board Member Darryl Willie emceed the the event. All six speakers are currently enrolled in high school in Duval County Public Schools. The William M. Raines High School band provided lively musical performances for the conference.

The first speaker was Jessica Malosh, a sophomore at Stanton College Preparatory School, addressed the stresses and hazards of social media. She argued that by consciously posting inclusive content, teenagers can relieve feelings of isolation. Jessica is closely involved with Leadership Jax Youth and has a keen interest in public policy.

Jessica was followed by Aidan Chau, a junior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, who explained how algae’s ability to capture carbon makes it a possible solution to climate change. Aidan is also the founder of the nonprofit Artfully Green, which raises climate change awareness through art and research.

Next up was Winston Seabrooks, Junior Class President at William M. Raines High School and an intern at the Kids Hope Alliance through the Mayor’s Youth at Work Partnership. Winston discussed ways to instill pride in inner city schools by encouraging students to take the lead on projects.

After a break for lunch, Mario Barrozo, a junior at Darnell Cookman School of the Medical Arts, shared his vision for an ideal school system, proposing ways the American education system can align itself with more productive models from other countries. Barrozo is a leader in a number of his school’s clubs and has volunteered hundreds of hours in his community.

Then, Zariah Swanigan, a senior at Paxon School for Advanced Studies,  discussed the impact of negative labels and stereotypes. Zariah encouraged the audience to fight back with compliments. “The power of a compliment is the power to change the world,” she stated emphatically to the audience.

Jabrea Ali, also a senior at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, gave the final talk, arguing that self-transparency is key to the mental health of young people. She also spoke about the importance of recognizing inter generational trauma. Jabrea plans to attend Howard University in the Fall and wants to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology.

Each of the student’s talks, which are being edited and produced by Kennetic Productions and Sight and Sound Studios, will be uploaded to the TEDx Talks YouTube channel, where they will be shared with more than 23 million subscribers around the world.

“Giving a platform to our youth is critical to our community. Young people are already changing the world, and as we’ve seen with every generation, this generation of youth will create the solutions that will solve the world’s biggest problems,” said Perwaiz.

TEDxJacksonville is in its ninth year, led by a volunteer team that organizes events throughout the year. The next conference on Saturday, October 17 will be the ninth annual conference. For more information on the conference, check for updates on TEDxJacksonville.com.