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TEDx event puts youth and inspiration in the same room

First ever TEDxGuelphU event is modeled on the popular TED Talks series

For youth, by youth.

That pretty much sums up the point of Tuesday's inaugural TEDxYouth@Guelph event held at Guelph Little Theatre.

A localized and youth-geared version of the popular TED Talk events that are popular across North America, it featured a series of thought-provoking guest speakers giving short talks to a room of selected Guelph high school students.

"It's important to inspire people to do good things," said Sophie Rymill, who helped organize the event with fellow Guelph CVI Grade 12 students Heather Duff and Michael Barker.

Rymill said getting involved in one's community in a positive way is important no matter what your age.

"I started being involved with lots of different things when I was in Grade 9 and now I'm in 12-plus. I just find it really rewarding and think other people should be involved with different things in their communities and try and create things for themselves," Rymill said.

Duff said they brought in speakers who could speak on topics relatable to youth.

"We wanted a message that was important to youth in our community — someone who had done something great, had a great message, was a youth or had done something to inspire you to be like them," Duff said.

Sascha Bosse, a YMCA-YWCA Women Of Distinction honoree in the trades and labour category earlier this year, spoke about "the stigma of the trades" and told her story of going to university only to find that her true calling was to work in a trade with her hands.

"There's always a stigma against trades," Bosse said. "This is what blows my mind. People always think the trades are for people who don't have an education."

Mayor Cam Guthrie spoke of the value of influence.

"I may not have the power, but I can have some influence, a positive influence," the Mayor said.

"Influence is an important role to have as a leader, not just for me as the mayor, but also for you as future leaders.

"When you have influence it translates into relationships and those relationships that you build translates into trust."

Other speakers Monday included Paralympian and University of Guelph student Leah Robinson, U of G family relations and applied nutrition professor Andrea Bucholz, Centennial high school student and longtime volunteer Marissa Liu, Guelph CVI student Fahim Shahriar, Guelph native and former national team soccer member Helen Stoumbos.

Barker said he and other youth want to hear from inspiring people about how they got to where they are "and what other people can do to get there."

City of Guelph coordinator of Youth Services Jenn Bucci helped oversee the organization of the event and help them with some of the logistics.

Bucci said students that attended Tuesday's day-long event were selected by guidance counsellors and principals from the various high schools.

Bucci said they wanted to keep the numbers to around 100 students to maintain the TED Talk principal of keeping things small and intimate.

Unlike many TED Talks, Tuesday's event was free.

Bucci said they hope to repeat the event next year.