6 Inspirational Teen TED Talks

It’s a given that teens are inspirational. Which other tribe are able to leave their towels  in such a sculptural shape on the floor, whilst training to become the new generation of hairdressers, doctors and entrepreneurs, get  250 million people to watch their #truecolours music video – and achieve all this on a diet of cereal, crisps and roast potatoes ?

Let’s start this TED round up with The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys. A family of teens playing blue grass … the band is made up of Jonny Mizzone and his brothers Robbie on fiddle, and Tommy, on guitar. (Disclaimer : kids grow up, they will be a little older now after this TED was filmed in 2012).

Bertie Richmond is a fourteen year old (Year 9) student at the King Alfred School in London, who is particularly interested in the performing arts side of education. In this talk he describes his struggle with OCD and what has helped him overcome his compulsions. And what might help you if you suffer with anxiety as he does. 

Born in Beijing and growing up in Su Zhou, Shang Qu is an avid reader who has read hundreds of books about science, history, literature… her favourite authors are Bill Bryson and Roald Dahl (she was 11 when she gave this TED talk, so not quite ‘TEEN’ status but still inspirational).

Richard Turere is a young Maasai man who lives in the wilderness of the Kenya savanna, on the edge of a national park full of rhino, giraffe, buffalo and lions. Since he was 9, Richard has held the honored chore of tending his father’s cattle; in his free time, he tinkered with electrical gadgets.

After dismantling the few household appliances, Richard taught himself how to fix them, and then he started inventing. He fit his parents’ home with fans made from car parts and other junkyard components harvested from junkyards, then built other inventions for his neighbours.

Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.

Here is a 2 min quick look at Adora’s work today. Her diary is packed with her activism, teaching and speaking.

Memory Banda’s life took a divergent path from her sister’s. When her sister reached puberty, she was sent to a traditional “initiation camp” that teaches girls “how to sexually please a man.” She got pregnant there — at age 11. Banda, however, refused to go. Instead, she organized others and asked her community’s leader to issue a bylaw that no girl should be forced to marry before turning 18.  She pushed on to the national level … with incredible results for girls across Malawi.


Here is Memory at aged 19 talking on BBC Africas YouTube channel (1min43). What a girl.