Teens Organize Cupertino’s 2nd TEDx Event

This summer, the Cupertino Library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB), a highly motivated student-led organization, collaborated with the City of Cupertino’s Teen Commission, a talented group of students with a passion for community engagement, on virtually presenting the second annual TEDxYouth@TorreAve. The teen board members and commissioners worked closely to connect everyone through the virtual world under the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

TEDxYouth@TorreAve, an officially licensed TEDx event, has a mission of uniting the global network of high school students, ages 13-18, in the Bay Area through the power of ideas. By sparking a change in our community, TEDxYouth@TorreAve strives to fill in the gaps created through social barriers and allows teen aficionados to present their creative visions to the public. With this year’s theme being Ignite, the teens aimed to find five exceptional speakers to ignite the light within the community. With TEDxYouth@TorreAve auditions held in April, the selection committee witnessed unparalleled talent through the speakers’ words of wisdom. 

Despite the initial hiccups along the way, with the struggles of shifting to online education, our TEDxYouth@TorreAve organizing team was immensely pleased with the amount of dedication and support from our speakers. Navigating through the current pandemic situation is a challenge in itself, but by bringing our community together in a time like this, we become enlightened by each other's ideas, described Aditya Sharma, the Lead Organizer and Official License Holder of TEDxYouth@TorreAve, and the chairman of the Teen Advisory Board. In recognition of the motivation, commitment, and persistent nature of the teenagers of the community, Steven Scharf, Mayor of the City of Cupertino, and Jennifer Weeks, County Librarian for the Santa Clara County Library District, delivered inspirational speeches to kick off the event.

Weeks spoke passionately about the endless collaboration of the Teen Advisory Board and the Teen Commission, describing them as leaders [who] used creativity to develop an event to encourage and support their peers. The Library is truly a space of collaboration and learning, and thus a natural fit for the amazing teamwork. 

Navigating through the complexities, the TAB and Teen Commission members revolutionized the virtual world. As a progressive and technologically advanced city, Cupertino encompasses teenagers who are spurred by technological innovation and aspire to become inventors of the future. Tackling the current situation, the teenagers created a notable impact in their community through the virtual event. Taking advantage of the T in TED, the group embraced technology to help make our world a bit brighter and better,” emphasized Weeks. 

TEDxYouth@TorreAve has become a platform for the speakers to voice their opinions and advocate for their causes. During these unfortunate times, the organizing team strived to unite a greater population to spark a change in the world, especially during times when the love and support of others had become a necessity. “With the unity of everyone on the team, we were able to work towards our goals and astonish the audience with the captivating speeches delivered by our speakers,” said Kavya T., a committed member of the Teen Advisory Board, working as this year’s Event Manager for TEDxYouth@TorreAve. “We were able to identify the strengths of each individual on the team, allowing us to grow and succeed together through the whole process.” Over the 6-month journey, each teen on the team cherished a unique role, acting as mentors, influencers, and leaders, working long hours to make the event possible. 

Matt Lorenzo, the Cupertino Library’s Teen Services Librarian, and Daniel Mestizo, the City of Cupertino’s Recreation Coordinator, directed and guided the teenagers of the TEDx organizing team. “The teens did a fantastic job of bringing their creative skills to new heights. The live streaming was also new territory for us, and we were able to reach more people than we ever imagined. It worked to our advantage” said Lorenzo. With topics ranging from The Psychology behind Climate Change to Navigating the Social Media Minefield, TEDxYouth@TorreAve had over 5,000 views, connecting everyone through the powers of the virtual world. Through their persistent guidance and support, the team showcased their strengths and talents, contributing to the creation of an exhilarating event. With the creativity, determination, and motive, the Teen Advisory Board and the Teen Commission will continue to inspire future generations for years to come.