TEDxTeen 2013


Chelsea Clinton

More than 300 teenagers and adults in the youth space gathered for TEDxTeen 2013, an independently organized conference presented by the We Are Family Foundation, that focused the conversation on teens and their power to change the world, hosted by Chelsea Clinton on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Scholastic's global world headquarters in New York City. Andrew Jenks, creator of MTV’s World of Jenks and author of “Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker,” joined in to host TEDxTeen 2013’s online global audience at, where people from 141 countries tuned in to experience the conference streaming live.

The theme of the fourth annual TEDxTeen conference, “The Audacity of whY,” resonates with Generation Y – or more appropriately, “Generation Why?” – as they turn over established regimes, age-old thinking, and timeless truths, through social media, the power of crowds and an unswerving belief that they have the right to know “why?”.

In addition to Chelsea Clinton and Andrew Jenks, TEDxTeen 2013 featured a number of speakers and performers who are each leading the global “whY” revolution in their own way, including Amaryllis Fox, Founder & CEO of mulu; Caine Monroy, creator of Caine's Arcade; Dylan Vecchione, Founder of ReefQuest; photographer Joseph Peter; Global Minimum Innovate Salone 2012 winner Kelvin Doe; Kristopher Bronner, co-creator of UNREAL™ Brands; musical prodigy Kuha'o Case; Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela and co-founder & co-chairman of the Africa Rising Foundation; Sophie Umazi, creator of I AM KENYAN; R&B/Soul Singer Tallia Storm; Tania Luna, CEO of Surprise Industries; and Maria Toorpakai Wazir, Pakistan's No. 1-ranked women's squash player.

TEDxTeen 2013 Talks will begin to go live on on Saturday, March 23, 2013. One talk will be released each day until all Talks are online.

Chelsea Clinton: In the Arena

The conversation began with host Chelsea Clinton’s talk, during which the former first daughter expressed her belief in the power of Generation Y to change the world. Clinton addressed the teens in the audience, telling them that their ideas are worth spreading and that they must find a way to make their voices heard in order to incite change.

“If you have the opportunity and the means to do something, you should do it. When there is something you want to accomplish, even if you don’t have the opportunity and means, you should make it for yourself. Engaging in the work of the world is hard but it’s the best kind of work,” Clinton encouraged the audience. “As we say in my family, it’s always better to get caught trying.”

Caine Monroy: Outside the Box

The next and youngest speaker at TEDxTeen 2013, Caine Monroy, was just 9 years old when he created “Caine's Arcade,” which became the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick. Monroy formed his arcade with a large amount of cardboard and a soaring imagination, by designing games, creating customer passes and even prizes. Mullick's film has received over 7 million views, along with 120,000 Facebook fans. Monroy has inspired more than 100 schools in 9 different countries to create their own cardboard arcades. Monroy’s talk focused on thinking “Outside the Box,” as his story proves that a child's imagination is limitless. With persistence and creativity, Caine Monroy managed to change not only his local community, but communities around the globe.

Joseph Peter: Give Happiness

Photographer Joseph Peter spoke next, focusing on his goal of sharing, inspiring and creating a positive image of humanity. Joseph Peter captured a selection of some of the most uplifting and inspiring imagery of African people through a photographic study of happiness during the 2009 FIFA World Cup. The photographs were compiled to create “The Book of Happiness: Africa,” which was given to 2,500 global leaders, dignitaries and stakeholders at the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa and inspired the campaign to create an International Day of Happiness.

Kuha’o Case: Seeing No Limits

The following speaker, 16-year-old blind musical prodigy Kuha'o Case began teaching himself how to play the piano and organ when he was just 12 years old. During his talk, “Seeing No Limits,” Case told the audience that no matter how difficult our circumstances, and no matter how hard things might be, we are all capable of greatness. Case asserted that having eyesight, might actually be more limiting than being blind, because eyesight allows people to base their limits on what they see and what’s around them, rather than what could be.

“In my own life, I see no limits. Each of us, within ourselves, has untapped potential,” Case said. “Close your eyes and black out images that say ‘You can’t.’ Welcome to the world of no limits.”

With his soaring talents and ability to match notes and rhythms after only hearing a song once, Case later performed a medley of popular songs selected by the audience, including “Some Nights” by Fun., “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, which earned Case his second standing ovation of the day.

Kelvin Doe: Persistent Experimentation

Global Minimum Innovate Salone 2012 winner Kelvin Doe took the stage next for his talk, titled, “Persistent Experimentation.” The inspiring youngster from Sierra Leone exhibited creative instincts as a child, and often dreamed of solutions to problems in his community. Doe, together with his team, built a radio station for his community out of recycled materials, in addition to homemade batteries and a generator.

“Creativity is universal and found in places you don’t expect to find it,” Kelvin told the audience.

Tania Luna: Taken by Surprise

CEO of Surprise Industries Talia Luna used to hate surprises, but after an encounter regarding SAT prep with her high school principal, she learned to take them with stride. She believes and encourages others to be taken by surprise as “wondering makes life more interesting and allows you to connect with others.” Luna surprised the audience by bringing three surprisologists dressed as chickens onstage, to lead the audience in the chicken dance.

“Whenever you have the choice between staying in your comfort zone or not, pick the surprise; choose to be vulnerable and choose the unknown,” Luna advised the audience.

Maria Toorpakai Wazir: Squashing Extremism

Born in South Waziristan, the tribal Pashtun region bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, where women are not entitled to the kind of education or freedoms enjoyed by those in North America, Maria Toorpakai Wazir's options as a young girl were severely limited and determined solely by the traditions of her culture. With her father’s encouragement, Toorpakai Wazir passed herself off as a boy in public so that she could play competitive sports, until one competition required her to submit her birth certificate at registration. Toorpakai Wazir then began competing openly as a girl and by the time she was 16 years of age, not only was she Pakistan’s number one player and the world’s number three junior, Toorpakai Wazir and her family were also receiving death threats from the Taliban. Toorpakai Wazir was forced into hiding and withdrew from openly playing squash, instead spending day and night emailing squash academies around the world for help. Toorpakai Wazir now trains at The National Squash Academy in Canada and plans to return to her native Pakistan only once she has won a world championship in squash so that she can show other young girls that they can do anything they put their minds to.

“Be confident and go for your dreams,” Toorpakai Wazir told the audience. “It’s your world, your life, your decisions.”

Ndaba Mandela: Why Africa Rising

Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela was next to take the stage to speak about inspiration. Mandela told the audience he wants to inspire new generations to empower and believe in themselves, and inspire their own communities. He went on to say that he knows that people look at him differently due to his prominent last name and that has brought on many opportunities in his life, but also many challenges. He had to change his outlook and learn that he has the power to control his own destiny. As the co-founder and co-chairman of Africa Rising Foundation, Mandela and his organization are dedicated to promoting a positive image of Africa, around the world.

Mandela inspired the audience stating, “We are being seen, we are being heard. I hope we will use our collective voices for a positive change.”

Tallia Storm: Discovering the Storm

R&B/Soul Singer Tallia Storm addressed the audience about what she calls, “Discovering the Storm.” During a vacation with her family in Hawaii, she had a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Elton John’s partner, David Furnish. Always prepared, Storm approached Furnish during breakfast and handed him her demo with a handwritten note and asked him to pass it along to Elton. Not thinking that anything would amount from it, Storm was in the airport, ready to leave her tropical vacation when she received a call from an unknown number which happened to belong to Sir Elton John. John asked Storm to open his show in Scotland where she was then dubbed “Tiny Chancer” by the press. Storm’s determination lead her, not only to pursue her dreams, but to the biggest break in her career.

“Seize your opportunity, discover the storm inside you,” Storm told the audience before performing the classic George Gershwin melody, “Summertime,” in a completely new arrangement.

Kristopher Bronner: How to Change the World

Following the soulful performance by Tallia Storm, Kristopher Bronner, co-creator of UNREAL™ Brands, took the stage to deliver his talk, “How to Change the World.” Upon realizing that his generation is the first that is not expected to live as long as its parents, Kristopher Bronner and his brother set out to prove that junk food, a leading contributor to the diabetes and obesity epidemic, can be “unjunked.” According to Bronner, UNREAL™ will have fulfilled its mission when other companies are inspired to “unjunk the world” by improving their own products. He passionately believes that entrepreneurship is the medium through which change is most influentially applied.

Amaryllis Fox: Following Instinct

The next speaker was Amaryllis Fox, founder and CEO of mulu, an online tool-making global publishers' content shoppable for charity, who spoke to the audience about how “Following Instinct,” helped her to become the person she is today. After high school, Fox struggled to choose between attending university or deferring school to travel and experience the world. Having decided to defer university, Fox faced a number of interesting situations as she worked in health clinics on the Thai-Burmese border and freelanced for the BBC and local wire services in Thailand, Indonesia and East Timor. Although she later returned to Oxford University to earn her undergraduate degree, Fox’s experiences abroad are what gave her the insight that inspired her to create mulu.

“The life that I’m living today,” Fox told the audience, “is the most authentically ‘me’ life I ever could have found, and I didn’t find it at the end of a list of pros and cons.”

Sophie Umazi: Picture this Peace

During the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, Sophie Umazi, who spoke next, was almost killed by three men who mistakenly thought that she was from an "enemy tribe" due to her light skin. So frightened and disgusted by the blind hatred exhibited by these men, Umazi knew she had to open the lines of communication across cultural boundaries and promote understanding. After being inspired by artist, JR's Inside Out Campain, Umazi launched the I AM KENYAN project, a globally backed, Kenyan driven, awareness campaign that used photography as a platform to promote peace during last week’s 2013 Kenyan elections. The idea is simple: different people are encouraged to take a photograph of themselves with the tag I AM KENYAN. Photography is a powerful storyteller and when Kenyans, both locally and in the Diaspora, come together to tell of and confirm their identity through this powerful platform, a strong message is sent to the public. It encourages them to see themselves as Kenyans before identifying themselves ethnically. Six months since she launched her campaign, Umazi’s organization has had a global outreach of over 4 million, collected over 10,000 pictures globally and conducted 15 local peace marches. Her project has resulted in a peaceful election with more than 70 percent voter participation.

Dylan Vecchione: Passionate QUESTioning

The final speaker of the day, fourteen year-old ReefQuest founder Dylan Vecchione, spoke to the audience about the power of “Passionate QUESTioning.” At the age of seven, after discovering the devastating affects of climate change on coral reefs around the world, Vecchione wanted to know what he could do to help. He spent the next seven years asking insightful questions that led him to create ReefQuest and its centerpiece, the "Virtual Reef," the leading digital underwater panoramic photographic record of global coral reefs. The Virtual Reef is being used as a platform for citizen science environmental programs in 48 countries, and over 60,000 students have participated in ReefQuest sponsored research.

“A passionate question is what challenges you and what you don’t assume to be true. Asking the right questions can lead to new thinking,” Vecchione said. “A passionate question should be a bridge to the undiscovered.”

In closing, Chelsea Clinton expressed her excitement to see how the youth of today will change the world for the better and thanked the audience and speakers of their time, their passion, their questions and their attendance.

There is no one more curious, no greater disruptor, than a teenager on a mission. They prod at, poke and dissect the world around them until they are confronted with answers - or mysteries - that capture their imaginations. TEDxTeen gives extraordinary teens (and a few cool adults) a platform to share their work, tell their stories and inspire others. Bright young minds ask questions, air comments and ignite conversations that spread from one small stage to all corners of the worldwide web via TEDxTeen Talks. TEDxTeen Talks have been viewed more than 2.2 million times to date. TEDxTeen is one of eight TEDx events of over 5,000 to have two or more talks featured on

In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” TED has created TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. This event is called TEDxTeen, where x = independently organized TED event. At TEDxTeen, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including this one, are self-organized.

TEDxTeen 2013 was sponsored by Abercrombie & Fitch, Hobsons, Seventeen, THINK Global School, This is Teen, Thomson Reuters, and Whole Foods Market.

For more information about TEDxTeen, please visit

About We Are Family Foundation

The We Are Family Foundation® (WAFF) is a New York City based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity – while striving to solve some of our biggest global problems at the same time. Since its inception in 2002, WAFF, founded by legendary songwriter/musician/producer Nile Rodgers, has created Three Dot Dash, a Global Teen Leader initiative that has empowered exceptional teens from 36 countries on six continents working together to alleviate issues related to basic human needs; created worldwide curricula that is currently used on six continents; produced TEDxTeen, an annual conference that gives extraordinary teens an educational platform to share their work, tell their stories and inspire others; built a global coalition of more than 75 organizations; created and distributed the award-winning PSA and early childhood educational DVD program, “We Are Family: A Musical Message for All,” to more than 60,000 schools and youth programs internationally; built 17 new schools, providing an education to more than 3,500 boys and girls in Mali and Malawi, Africa, Nepal and Nicaragua. To date, WAFF has made a positive impact on 15 million+ people worldwide.

For more information about We Are Family Foundation®, please visit

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

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. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world's leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Two major TED events are held each year: The TED Conference takes place every spring on the West Coast (along with a parallel conference, TEDActive), and TEDGlobal is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

TED’s media initiatives include, where new TEDTalks are posted daily; the new TED Conversations, enabling broad conversations among TED fans; and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.

TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

For information about TED's upcoming conferences, please visit