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Leadership and Activism

Back to their future – together!

This was part of my speech on August 7 at Portland, Oregon during the 8th Annual AERO Conference — Transforming Education & Our World and was originally posted at the TEDxKids@BC website. I hope you will enjoy the video I made for the occasion — bear in mind that this was my first attempt at video editing! 😉 I am looking forward to your feedback on my thoughts around bringing the kids into a partnership with us adults and making a social change and shaping the future together!

Try to imagine a future without kids. It hurts to even think about this, right? It’s a nightmare we better never see! How about kids without a future? Unfortunately, the world in which many kids have no future already exists — we live in it every day.

I am not talking runaway climate change roasting the biosphere here — from poverty, to no access to clean drinking water, to diseases, to no basic human rights — examples of this kind abound. But the kids also face problems like outdated school systems, inefficient healthcare, disconnectedness from nature, society that values conformity over authenticity…

In our world, adults decide for the kids: From serving chocolate milk during school lunch to opting out from vaccines… From cutting school budgets and enforcing standardized testing to choosing energy sources and CO2 limits… From what to learn and whom to learn with to when and how to play!

What right do we have to make these decisions for them? More experience and knowledge? Maybe, but our experience and knowledge is limited to the world of NOW! We and our kids learn the world of tomorrow together — they have to catch up on history but they’re quick learners.

In our world, we like to categorize and label — Black, Hispanic, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, gay, breeder, queer… We do this with kids too — infant, toddler, preschooler, grade-/middle-/high- school student, teenager… adult!

What purpose do these labels serve? To justify the right to make decisions if your sticker says “adult”? They only help segregating into groups, leading to groups distancing from each other and starting their own cultures!

I am sorry, but the right to make decisions is earned — and we have done little to earn it so far! It is time we take the stickers off and help the younger among us engage with the older ones in making decisions.

We should get the help of the curios minds of the younger population if we’re to change our perspective on the problems of the future. We should use the creative power that the school system so diligently tries to kill and use it to seek for novel solutions to problems. We should bring walls down and build bridges instead to allow the local group cultures to enmesh into a global vision for the future.

This is what TEDxKids@BC is about. This is why I think others should start similar opportunities for the kids in their communities. Let’s build a platform where all generations partner in change!

Long time ago, I was inspired by Severn Suzuki speaking at the UN Earth Summit in 1992 (at age of 12). Today, I am inspired by Adora Svitak speaking at TED (at age 12 again — there must be something about age 12!) and organizing TEDxRedmond. I am also deeply inspired by all the speaker candidates that have submitted their amazing stories to share at TEDxKids@BC.

But it is easy to be inspired by all those high-achieving kids who have a chance to raise their voice and ignite a spark in the rest of us to go after our dreams. What is amazing to me is how inspiring are those people trying to connect with us at TEDxKids@BC and join us at the event to listen to our speakers.

We have invited our community to tell us a bit about themselves and why they want to join us as part of the registration process. Reading their applications is almost as inspiring as reviewing the speaker candidates:

“The matter of fact that the world strives to disappoint me upsets me every day. Every time I have a new idea or a thought I would like to share, my thoughts cloud me with judgments and reality, telling me that ‘this won’t work’ or that ‘you can’t do this because you don’t try hard enough’. I do not want to stand in a room with air full of clichés that I’ve heard too many times from various youth organizations. I’m not saying that their messages are bad or incorrect, but they just have been said and heard too much. I look forward to hearing stories and ideas that I have never been exposed to and learn from these new thoughts. I’m hoping to up most improve my thoughts there and soon perform inspiring speeches of my own at events like these. I hope to come back to my school with mixed up ideas that I can share and recreate.”

My personal inspiration for trying to make a difference in this world and make the future open to the kids comes from my own family. My two daughters, Anastasia (7) and Lina (2) do not stop to be a source of motivation and keep me amazed by their curiosity and never ending desire to explore and learn.

I am also inspired by all the kids I meet everyday, as they’re engrossed in learning something new and excited about every new day. By every single one of you out there trying to engage with the kids around you and create real relationships with them — where they’re empowered and invited to be partners.

Let’s make a difference and start a truly open platform that lets all generations partner in change — no labels, no limited views!

I am happy to report that several people from the audience approached me after my talk and are seriously thinking about starting TEDxKids or TEDxYouth events in their own communities!

About kima

Organizer: Father. Agent of change. I learn for a living. Curiosity is my passion. Writing is my dream. I believe in the value of social media as a way to meet new people and love double espresso as a way to feel warm with old friends ;-)


3 thoughts on “Back to their future – together!

  1. The video is beautiful, Kima, well done! I am sending it to everyone in my school community. I hope to be able to watch live on the 17th. (This is my daughter’s 11th birthday so, I’ll remember the date – not too far from 12. Hmmm.) Best of luck on this project!!

    It was so nice to meet you at AERO. As I am in your neighborhood, more or less, I look forward to the possibility of future collaborations.


    Posted by Paul Freedman | August 12, 2011, 4:52 am
  2. I sometimes think we have done all we can to minimize kids’ impact on the adult world, and that it would be a better world in which adults did all they could to enrich the lives of children.

    It’s important to me to be part of a group like this that tries to challenge society at every turn to re-prioritize learning, to empower learners, and to trust children.

    I would like to see more schools act in partnership with kids; many acknowledge the need, but then operate to produce results with expedience and consequence rather than to support learning with patience and care.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | August 12, 2011, 11:48 am


  1. Pingback: TedxKidsBC Viewing Party « Cooperative Catalyst - September 17, 2011

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