Raleigh Youth Inspire Change at TEDxYouth@ChavisWay Event

— Written By Nyawira Nyota and last updated by
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The inaugural TEDxYouth@ChavisWay event was a huge success! Under the theme of “Inspiring Change,” the March 2023 event brought together 11 incredible youth speakers and performers from across the Triangle to share their ideas and talents on the TEDx stage. In case you missed any of their performances—or if you want to relive the experience—we’ve put together a recap and a link to their videos below. 

Now, imagine you’re in a room with about 100 people, cameras set up, and an air of anticipation…

  1. Niko Wiguna | Will Everything Be Alright?

    Whether it’s through the stages of a butterfly or the weight of a ship anchor, Niko Wiguna explores the facets of youth – from discovering individual passions to facing the stress of college applications – by using purposeful analogies that connect to his own personal experiences as a high schooler. Amongst the pressure, expectations, and standards teenagers face, Niko reveals how we can assure that, well, everything will be alright. 

    Niko Wiguna [Nee-koh Wigoo-nuh] (he/him) is a sophomore at Green Level High School. He eagerly invests his passion and time into hip-hop dance and videography. Fascinated by the minds of youth, he aspires to become a pediatric psychologist. Niko strives to uplift others and help his community with positivity, humor, and confidence. 

  2. Raily Greca | Why Stories Can Fight Climate Change

    Stories impact our lives more than we think: they make us learn things about the world, understand an important issue better, and grow as people who take action. As we near the point of no return with climate change, it is important that we reframe our discussions surrounding climate education. Simply stating facts and warning about the dangers of climate change hasn’t been enough to convey the grim state of our future. Stories, as a way to connect personally with an audience, will be our only solution.

    Raily Greca [ ray-lee ger-e-ka] (she/her) is a homeschooling sophomore in Raleigh, NC who is passionate about climate change, filmmaking, and writing. Having completed many climate action projects, including serving as a teen advisor for the Durham Youth Climate Summit, she is looking forward to discussing how stories will help fight climate change.

  3. Camila Armas | My education failed me: Why civics is key to a better U.S

    In a country where the political divide is becoming wider and wider, the issue of civics education is increasingly becoming a hot button topic. As more bills are passed and funding increases, the country needs now more than ever to reckon with the state of civics education and offer real solutions for reformation to create a new generation of youth community leaders and voters.

    Camila Armas (she/her) is a senior at Wake STEM Early College High School. She has trained in Hapkido for 5 years and teaches a children’s martial arts class. In her free time she crochets stuffed animals to donate to WakeMed Raleigh. She is very interested in the role the government has in our lives and how it can be used to help underprivileged groups and solve the pressing issues of our time. She will use her experience as a House Page and a Lady Cardinal Mentee to discuss the importance of civics education and voting rights.

  4. Amy Li | Fighting The Typhoon (Zither Performance)

    The musical performance showcases the Chinese zither, which consists of 21 strings on a long wooden board. Amy performs “Fighting the Typhoon”, a traditional Chinese piece that aims to emphasize the spirit of people as we face and overcome challenges in our lives, like fighting a typhoon.

    Amy Li is a junior at Enloe High School in Raleigh, NC. She is passionate about her culture and plays the zither, a traditional Chinese instrument, as well as volunteers at the Raleigh Academy of Chinese Language as a tutor and leader. In the future, she aspires to work in the health and technology fields and is currently a part of the Raleigh Digital Connectors program and HOSA. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching crime shows, and spending time with friends and family.

  5. Courtney Lassiter | The Art of Art Careers

    As a young artist, Courtney Lassiter found that there weren’t many art opportunities for people in her area…so she created them. Lassiter encourages creatives to follow their dreams and pursue artistic careers. 

    Courtney Lassiter is an 18 year old multidisciplinary artist from North Carolina. Inspired by her personal experiences and the world surrounding her, Lassiter plans to study studio art at a university in late 2023. Lassiter wishes to establish the world of art as a worthy career choice for young creatives.

  6. Sahas Vijayabaskar | What We Can Learn From Ant and Bee Society What can humans learn from ants and bees? Quite a lot, actually. Sahas Vijayabaskar (he/him) is a 15 year old freshman living in North Carolina. He has a passion for Zoology and the natural world. His favorite Phylum of animals are Arthropods because of how diverse they are compared to most animal life. Sahas is excited to spread his passion about these underappreciated creatures. Sahas is a boy scout and has participated in public speaking and STEM competitions. 
  7. Mili Soler | How Labels Are Negatively Affecting YouthWe use labels all the time, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally; both can be very harmful to youth. People need to know how they might be putting labels on others without realizing it and how labels can create negative thought processes in kids’ minds. We need to learn how the language we use can affect youth in the long term. Mili Soler (she/her) is a sophomore at Millbrook High School in Raleigh NC. She loves both athletics and arts such as design, painting, visual arts in many different mediums, writing (specifically poetry), and is currently in JROTC at her school . She is very proud of her Puerto Rican and Military roots, which have helped shape who she is today. She is very passionate about social justice and how youth can impact change for causes like racial equality, and women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. 
  8. Emily Pirhalla | Disney Tricked Me: No Musical Numbers Here

    Emily’s Talk talks about all of the challenges youth are facing today, ranging from social media relationships and the lgtbq+ community.

    Emily Pirhalla [emily Pur-halla] (she/her) is a 14 year old who will be starting her freshman year of high school in the fall. She enjoys being involved with her community and currently serves as a Student Ambassador and Reporter for 4-H Teen Council. She truly enjoys public speaking and even placed first at 4-H’s Presentation Day. She is currently looking forward to performing as Te Ka in her school’s production of Moana Jr. Emily hopes to bring attention to the difficulties and rapid changes that today’s youth face.

  9. Hadi Rahim | Universal Healthcare? Not As Radical As You Think.

    Universal healthcare is a hot topic in the United States but it’s been widely adopted throughout the rest of the developed world. Is it time for America to make the switch? 16 year old High School student Hadi Rahim explains how the US could benefit from universal healthcare.

    Hadi Rahim (he/him) is a 16-year-old Junior from Apex, NC. He is passionate about political science, public policy, law, history, film, and technology. He is very social and good at public speaking. He is passionate about healthcare policy and excited to speak on the issue.

  10. Sadie Schaecher | Harmless Messages…Until They’re Not

    Living in a media-driven world, there is a plethora of harmful messages that get fed to us on the daily. It becomes imperative to identify and work against these in order to strengthen our mental health. Let’s learn to treat our minds with the kindness they deserve in this challenging modern world, together.

    Sadie Schaecher [shack-er] (she/her) is an award winning artist and spoken word poet, working in mental health advocacy. A junior at the Hawbridge school, she uses her personal experiences to bring under-represented issues to light, working to cultivate an educated understanding and make a better experience for people like her.

  11. Nimet Karabulut | Canaries Like Salt and Pepper (Spoken Word Poetry)

    This spoken word poem details the poet’s experiences as an adolescent.

    Nimet Karabulut (she/her) is a sixteen year old student from North Carolina. She’s a rising junior and is passionate about writing, specifically themes of the human experience be it in prose or poetry. Her work explores familial and social dynamics, religion, and the silent burden of hopelessness. Although she tends toward writing when she turns to art, she paints and draws on her own time as well. She believes through exploring loneliness and despair through art, the isolated people of this generation may come together and find comfort in one another, sparking a sort of hope, after all.

  12. Genesis Ijeomah | The Catch In Our Thoughts

    What would happen if we just believed in our capabilities—not the if or when—but the why and how?

    Genesis Ijeomah, 14, is a Nigerian student. She had been disinterested with the realities of how life was going in the fourth grade. This sparked her fascination with philosophy and she began writing about her observations, causing her to write a book,Your Initiative, to share her knowledge with anyone who will listen and reach a larger audience.

  13. Keertana Ramars | Awake: Wake up to Greener Schools and a Greener Future The world right now is like a boulder on the tip of a cliff, rapidly being pushed out of balance as we pump billions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. If this boulder falls, we will reach the tipping point, and our world will witness catastrophic climate events. This talk is about the vital role that schools can play in fighting the climate crisis and how each one of us can, in turn, make our schools greener and lead the world to a carbon-neutral future. Keertana Ramars Jillella is an 8th grade student at Heritage Middle School. She is the recipient of the Lemelson Early Inventor Award for her invention “HawkEYE,” which is patent-pending. She was recognized as Top 300 MASTERS by The Society for Science and published in their blog. She’s passionate about sustainability and the future of our planet.