Young Voices Were On the Minds of TEDxPhilly Speakers
Canary Promotion was proud to be a sponsor of the second TEDxPhilly, held on November 8 at Temple Performing Arts Center. The Canary team spent all day at this one-day conference featuring speakers who shared ideas and explored the theme of The City. Among many interpretations of the theme, we heard about the architecture of the physical city (Inga Saffron, Amy Hillier, Glen J. Abrams), the urban connection to food (Yael Lehmann, Marisa McClellan), health care issues that affect our cities and our world (Dr. Jeffrey Brenner), the transformational power of the arts (Haas & Hahn, Janet Echelman, Spiral Q Puppet Theater), and the importance of empowering the voices of young people (Nijmie Dzurinko, Philly Youth Poetry Movement, Stanford Thompson).
We were also treated to two powerful student performances by Philly Youth Poetry Movement (a Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia winner) and Play On, Philly!, both of which are nonprofit organizations giving young people a voice. We were excited to see one of Philadelphia Young Playwright’s Youth Council members up on stage with PYPM as a slam artist. Hearing Gregory Corbin and Denice Frohman talk about the power and maturity of the students with whom they work didn’t prepare us for how beautiful and articulate this young woman’s words were. In a case of auspicious timing, we had met with Philadelphia Young Playwright’s Youth Council on Monday night to talk about some of the same topics that arose at TEDxPhilly. It was an inspiring reminder that while adults are doing their best to figure out what students need amidst budget cuts and school closings, students already know what they need… are we willing to listen?
One of the last speakers was Ethan Nguyen, a health researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who recounted the obstacles he faced as a Vietnamese immigrant navigating the unfamiliar waters of continuing his education. Ethan overcame those obstacles and went on to mentor many other students through the college application process. Ethan’s powerful challenge to each of us was to mentor one young person this year. While we should all take that challenge personally, it also makes us proud to work with organizations like Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Knight Foundation that are using their resources to make a difference and to provide platforms for the voices of hundreds of children in the Philadelphia area.
It’s that opportunity to be heard, to be told that your ideas matter, that is so crucial. This past week, Philadelphia Young Playwrights put students voices center stage with professional productions at The Wilma Theater on the Avenue of the Arts. Students from South Philadelphia, Cheltenham and Upper Darby have had the extraordinary opportunity to work on their plays with theater professionals, and we have had the extraordinary opportunity to listen and to learn.
Back in the Canary office, we’re still buzzing about what we learned at TEDxPhilly and are taking a new perspective into our work. Sometimes a day away from the desk, just to listen, is exactly what you need to take passion and ideas to the next level.
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