TEDxYouth@Brum: Recap & Reflections


“There’s a fine line between crazy and courage”  - Michael Sani

As the doors opened for the very first TEDXYouth@Brum event, our audience warmed up the infamous red circle perfectly with their very own TEDxYouth selfies. Our hosts Suriya Aisha and Casey Bailey quickly plunged straight into questions of courage showing a video that Paul Stringer created featuring the TEDxYouth@Brum 2017 team saying what Courage means to them. Since then the team has been encouraging everyone to find their brave; in any way possible, big or small. So with an infinite amount of ways to evoke, nurture and draw on courage, how do you really #FindYourBrave? Each of our speakers and performers brilliantly taught a valuable lesson on how.

Michael Sani kicked us off with the most quoted provocation of the day: “there’s a fine line between crazy and courage” as he shared his big idea for developing political engagement in under 5 year olds through play. For Jay Johnson, musician and performer, it is this duality that allows you to take the risks that make life worth living as he shared his song “Manchester” about moving out of home aged 17.  As Rogue Play’s performance demonstrated, the sky really is the limit for them in terms of finding their brave as 23 year old Anna tumbled from the ceiling draped in red silk and indoor rain! It was quite a moment with audiences gasping and clapping throughout. We all quickly got our tongues around Steffan Zachiyah’s mantra: “you have to know who are and where you’re coming from in order to know where you’re going” as he shared his story of social transitioning and encouraged to us first find our identity but then not to be defined by it.

For Amna Akhtar a change to her environment really changed the game; it taught her to apply herself by creating her own reality first in her mind then in her physical environment with those she is around and the activities she does. Whereas Amna spoke about starting up, 23 year old Olympian Jazmin Sawyers shared a big idea about winding down. Jaz boldly decided to reframe her approach to quitting and showed us how it saved her sporting career, proving that winners can quit, as long as they know why; quit with purpose.

Daniel Glaser gave us a glimpse into neuroscience and showed us that we invent the colours we see (take that as a science or a political statement, or both). But also how we see ourselves is driven by the language we use. Casually sharing stories about spit rings and space, he encouraged us to have courage to question what we see and how that is constructed. Toby Campion showed his brave through his poem ‘Lion’s Pride’ and Muna Ruumi reminded us not to be scared in the knowledge that any story can be an inspiration. 

“It’s ok to be strong it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s ok to be both.” - Affiejam

“It’s ok to be strong it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s ok to be both.” - Affiejam

Affiejam eloquently spoke and sang about the idea that it’s ok to be strong and it’s ok to be vulnerable AND it’s also ok to be both. On the theme of self care and sharing our own stories, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan suggested through her beautiful yet fierce poetry that we take matters into our own hands.

Trewin Restorick asked us to pause and question the industry around us. For him there is too much focus on fast fashion and that we should slow down and challenge the system around us. This beautifully echoes Michael Conroy’s talk asking us to speak truth to power and to fight our own power and privilege to give more space to those who aren’t given the same equity in our society. This notion was shared by Dr Kehinde Andrews. His message was a stark reminder that it is not possible to supplement what does not exist, encouraging radical thinking within the community itself through ‘radical communities of practice’. He reminded us that institutions change people, people don’t change institutions. But not all is lost! Brummie Saffiyah Khan encouraged us all to get politically engaged and socially active but not to adopt it as an identity of its own. Be active, not an activist was Saffiyah Khan’s poignant closing line calling for a removal of the concept of activists and a focus on the whole world just getting active. This was also articulated through Stephen Greene’s talk about democratising community work. He encouraged us to celebrate our achievements just as he has been doing swapping volunteer hours for big gigs with Lady Gaga, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky.

Courage for some is about chasing your passions no matter when people tell you they aren’t worth it; Key Infinity dance group refuse to lose faith in their creative industry even at times when they feel there is very little support. Sarah Maple shared this feeling but encouraged us to use our voice. She invited us to follow her in a movement that uses art to say the unsayable and to protect freedom of speech as it gives us ‘the freedom to be challenged’. For Bill West, in the Choir with No Name which is a choir for people who are homeless or have experienced homelessness, his singing gives him the strength to overcome stage fright in honour of his mother who was also a singer. Kioko, a socially conscious reggae band from Kings Norton, told us that since the age of 5 they have wanted to change the world, one riddim at a time. They certainly changed us as 200 of us got up to dance and celebrate the end of the first TEDxYouth@Brum.

We’d like to remind you all that the ideas worth sharing don’t just live on the red dot. As Clint Smith said, the first TED video we showed on the day; silence is the residue of fear. So speak up, shout up, whisper up. However you decide to share these ideas, and your own, please speak up. We’ll end this on Hannah Prentice’s very wise words as she described what it’s like to live with Tourette Syndrome; stay visible even when it’s painful.

TEDxYouth@Brum livestream is still available at our website www.tedxyouthbrum.com/livestream. Videos will be available in coming weeks and photos, courtesy of Thom Bartley and Paul Stringer, are available at Flickr and on our website. For full bios of the speakers and performers, please also see our website.


Lily Wales - Twitter: @LilyWales
Anisa Haghdadi - Twitter: @AnisaHaghdadi