Why TEDChildren can make a difference!
Today I got very excited to learn about two great initiatives — one backed by UNICEF and another resulting from the TEDx community — providing kids with an opportunity to voice their opinion on topics impacting their future — from global warming, to universal education for everyone, to eradicating poverty…
Naturally, that made me think if my quest for initiating TEDChildren is obsolete as these two forums are already providing what I had in mind when I wrote my call for action! At first sight it seemed to me that I can go back and catch up on my sleep, to the great relief to all of those fine folks around the world I’ve harassed into following @TEDChildren on Twitter! 😉
While going back to 5-6 hrs of sleep from the current 2-3 sounds tempting, I decided to do my homework and understand the two forums better!
UNICEF started with the Junior 8 Summit (J8) initiative as a way to provide an opportunity for youths all over the world to join the delegates in the yearly G8 summit to discuss global issues and come up with recommendations on the priority and the solutions for certain problems for the kids around the world. This is a great idea and I think similar efforts should happen with many global conferences, allowing young ambassadors from all over the world to interact with researchers and policy makers on topics involving kids or impacting their future! Indeed, UNICEF is already doing that — e.g. towards the end of last year the 2009 Children’s Climate Forum was an attempt to put together recommendations for the official UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen!
Unfortunately — and I hate to say this as I have a good opinion of UNICEF in general, but it becomes obvious when one goes to the J8 website and finds outdated pages and dysfunctional forums — UNICEF doesn’t have that “platformness” essence I spoke about earlier in this blog when discussing Twitter, TED, and similar. This is preventing it from gathering a large number of enthusiastic people to actively build a community that then takes on the initiative and further drive its progress.
On top of that, by setting the goal of J8 to prepare recommendations for the G8, rather than enabling partnership between the youth and the policy makers, UNICEF is limiting the potential behind the initiative as the children get a limited communication channel to express their views, rather than a dynamic and interactive platform to start discussions and act on them.
The second initiative, TEDxYouthDay is one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a very long time — and I mean this even compared to TEDChildren for the reasons explained below!
The idea is that on November 20, 2010 — Universal Children’s Day — local events take place within 24 hours around the world. These events should feature local youth speaking in front of other kids and adults from their local communities, inspiring more young people to actively participate in solving various problems the kids are facing today. — TEDxYouth@TampaBay, for example, is trying to find ways to empowers youths in their community to become agents of change!
I find this awe inspiring! It makes me feel stronger of TED as a powerful platform for collaboration and action on both global and local level. TED has the muscles of an extremely active community which can make things happen! With TEDx as a way to bring the action to local level I have great trust TEDxYouth events will be hugely successful and inspire lots of young people to get involved and be agents of change indeed! — Just see the creativity and energy radiating from my friends at TEDxAmsterdam in this video and you’ll know what I am talking about!
But, and I think this is a crucial but (!), I think TEDxYouth needs its own global base — a mother ship if you will 😉 — which is separate, but still closely affiliated with TED and TED Global! I think this is where TEDChildren fits the bigger picture! The idea behind it is, in many ways, similar in spirit to TEDWomen. Along with TEDxYouth it will form a feedback loop between the global and local levels and will further engage the youth with the existing TED community, providing great opportunities for action and change. — And I intentionally use “will” instead of “could” as I fully trust the potential of the initiative! (Assuming TED embraces it, of course 😉 )
If TEDxChange is a forum for bringing the energy of the TED community and the power of the Gates Foundation to finance global projects in addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), I see TEDChildren as a new platform to partner with the youth around the world to participate, at equal level, with researchers and policy makers who are involved in addressing those MDGs and beyond. TEDChildren will serve as a platform for inspiring young people from every single part of the world to join the TEDxYouth community — taking the action to solve problems in their local communities and help implementing the ideas discussed globally at TEDChildren!
I strongly believe in TED as a platform for letting everyone in the world share their best ideas and doing great things in the world! I also strongly believe that kids should be brought into the discussions on solving the problems our generation needs to solve to ensure their future! Due to this, I am prepared to work tirelessly to make TEDChildren happen! If you are passionate about this and would like to support the initiative, please follow @TEDChildren, tweet about it, blog about it, … or simply send me a message to say Hi at @g_kima 😉