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TEDxTeen London: When it comes to innovation, age really is just a number


TEDxTeen sketchnote by Brad Ovenell-Carter

The conversationalist. The model. The climber.
The writer. The environmentalist. The programmer.
The retail entrepreneur. The managing director. The violinist.
The bionic boy. The bully beater.

At first glance these labels might seem like an odd grouping: Where would they have met? What would their conversations revolve around? These questions have simple answers, but ones that are very telling: Each of the eleven labels above are representative of a teen who spoke about “remarkable disruption” at this past weekend’s TEDxTeen conference in London, and they weren’t speaking to each other, but in front of an audience of teens keyed in on learning about their disruptive achievements as a teenager, just like themself.

Each of this weekend’s speakers recognize that age is simply a number -nothing more- and one that should be disregarded when reviewing the worth of their contributions. That’s one of the most brilliant things about the TEDxTeen conferences — as remarkable as each of the speakers are (and they truly are remarkable), if they’ve accomplished this much by the age of 14, 15, and 16, what will they have accomplished by the time that they are 40?

That’s a conversation for another day; the conversations I heard over the weekend stressed that today’s teens can accomplish anything they set their minds to: fourteen-year-old Ashima Shiraishi, an avid mountain climber and only the second woman to boulder the V14 Golden Shadow — clearly a remarkable disruptor. Ankit Shah, whose “Tea With Strangers” website has forged thousands of new friendships between complete strangers — definitely a remarkable disruptor. And then there’s Chantelle Brown-Young, strong-minded as they come, and not about to let her vitiligo get in the way of her dreams of becoming a model — and a super-successful one at that (she recently appeared on America’s Next Top Model) — the very definition of a remarkable disruptor.


See more from Chantelle Brown-Young’s Instagram account

I encourage you to take a bit of time and learn a little bit more about each of Saturday’s speakers. I’m far from a teen myself (I’m 35 now), but their stories and innovations are pertinent to us all. I left The O2 feeling inspired by what I’d seen and heard, challenging myself to further explore my passions, to see if I myself can be a remarkable disruptor. Age is, after all, simply a number, right?

Click on a name below to learn more about one of this past weekend’s speakers. We’ll also have links to each speakers video as they are posted.

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