What’s the big idea?

If you want to know, check out six young, inspiring speakers at the long-awaited TEDxYouth conference Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Davenport Central High School auditorium, 1120 Main St.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event.

TEDxDavenport is among over 3,000 such events held each year worldwide.

TEDx brings the spirit of TED to local communities around the globe through TEDx events. These events are organized by passionate individuals who seek to uncover new ideas and to share the latest research in their local areas that spark conversations in their communities, according to the TEDx website.

TEDx events include live speakers and recorded TED Talks, and are organized independently under a free license granted by TED. These events are not controlled by TED, but event organizers agree to abide by the format, and are offered guidelines for curation, speaker coaching, event organizing and more. More than 3,000 events are now held annually.

This will be the second TEDxYouth in Davenport (which began in 2019), and the third year for the adult TEDx event (which started in 2018) — coming June 25 — at the Adler Theatre.

Haley DeGreve, a 2020 Augustana graduate and leader of The Gray Matters Collective, will speak about mental health, suicide and the power of community.

The youth event was originally scheduled for spring 2020 at the Putnam Museum, and two of Wednesday’s speakers (Haley DeGreve and Megan Clark) are from the original lineup. This year’s theme (“Outspoken”) asked area youth to share their outspoken perspectives that they believe can make a significant change in our city, community, region, or across the globe.

Applicants must be between ages 14 and 24 and submit a video of their idea, to be reviewed by a committee, TEDxDavenport director Andrea Olson said Tuesday.

“It’s hard because you want to take in a lot of people, but TED requires you to have a diverse set of topics,” she said. “So if 10 people submit the same idea, we can’t really have 10. And then, of course, you just want diversity of thought. So that people from different backgrounds, different experiences. And so we have to balance everything based on the diversity of the program overall.”

“It’s so hard because you get some students that you can see their potential,” Olson said. ”I’m sure every educator struggles with having to say no to some. But this mix has just such a mature and insightful perspective from where they’re sitting.

“We have speakers that are talking about cognitive biases and bullying and things that they’re speaking to so candidly,” she said, noting the girl who’s speaking on bullying originally was a bully. “To have that perspective is just phenomenal to see. And that’s what we like to have, are those students that are willing to be a little more raw and honest and have that self-awareness and bring it to the stage.”

It’s a coincidence that three of the speakers are Central students, with the event at Central (after originally scheduling six Central kids in 2020). Olson said she reached out to all the QC high schools. Presentations must be between 5 and 15 minutes long.

Wednesday lineup and bios

The TEDxYouth speakers are:

  • Netsanet (Netty) Kantner

Title: Behind the Algorithms — How humans are implementing personal biases within technology.

Netty Kantner

Bio: She is a sophomore at Davenport Central High School. At Central, she’s participated in robotics, volleyball, mock trial, track, and tennis.

  • Haley DeGreve

Title: Mental Health, Suicide, & the Power of Community

In today’s world, mental health and suicide prevention must become a top priority. As suicide is a leading cause of death in Americans, it’s also the most preventable. How do we even begin to make a difference? With the right tools and resources, the power of community can help heal our broken world, one person at a time. It starts right here. It starts with you.

Bio: DeGreve is a John Deere Communications Specialist and 2020 graduate of Augustana College. Throughout her education, she was inspired to start a mental health awareness and suicide prevention non-profit called The Gray Matters Collective in 2018. The collective became a movement filled with hope, support, and healing for thousands – becoming a nationally recognized movement through the University of Michigan Depression Center.

Since she began mental health advocacy in 2018, she’s spoken at many local schools, events, and workplaces to advocate against mental health stigma and educate crisis intervention.  As current president and founder of The Gray Matters Collective, she hopes to change the world, one person at a time.

  • Megan Clark

Title: What I Wish You Would Ask Me — she will address the issue of animal welfare and how the treatment of animals is often portrayed, as she talks about her own and others experiences at the fair. She will also speak about the real things within animal agriculture and about what to ask producers about livestock. Her goal is to create common ground between producers and consumers and to initialize better and more honest conversations.

Megan Clark

Bio: Clark is a senior at Central Dewitt High School. She has been involved with agriculture her whole life as she lives on a diversified crop and beef farm. She is fascinated by agriculture and the way that it impacts everyone’s lives.

Megan is also heavily involved in media and agricultural communications. She has worked in media in Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, Nevada, and many local places across the state. Megan sees communications as an opportunity to start a conversation about agriculture and a way to educate people. In her free time, she participates in FFA, livestock evaluation, 4-H, softball, and exhibits beef cattle at the local, state, and national level.

  • Josiah Blanton

Title: Mindset over Skillset — Teaching you the mentality to obtain the things you want and need in life.

Josiah Blanton

Bio: A Chicago-based 20-year-old entrepreneur (originally from the QC), as well as a financial literacy strategist, mentor and influencer.

  • Benie Toko

Title: Three and a half viewpoints — The dynamics in bullying situations and how different parties may act.

Benie Toko

Bio: Benie is a 13-year-old attending Central High School. She enjoys reading, knitting, and sleeping in her spare time.

  • Korina Smith

Title: Silence is Golden — A spoken-word piece on silence and speaking up; an issue that is prevalent in her life and the lives of others, especially as we transition to adulthood and gain more exposure to problems in our society.

Korina Smith

Bio: Smith is a junior at Central High School. She enjoys the outdoors, learning new things, and finding ways to make the world a better place.

A big name coming to talk at the June TEDx in Davenport is famous sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who was the model for Tom Cruise’s character in “Jerry Maguire.”

The TED event speakers for June 25 at the Adler Theatre are:

Tickets for Wednesday’s event are $10, available HERE.