3 months, 11 team members, 10 speakers, 1 dance performance, 8 volunteers, 1 host and host venue and 9 partners later, TEDxYouth@Croydon came to Croydon for the very first time.
What a whirlwind journey it has been. I remember giving a 5 minute speech at Croydon Communicators about my vision of TEDx come to Croydon and why as one of the best speaking clubs in London, I wanted them to be on my team.
We gathered at Croydon Park Hotel that evening, where I shared my vision and team roles that would need to be filled. Their response was fantastic and by the end of the evening nearly all the team roles had been filled. We set a date for our first official meeting a week later and so the planning began.
Until you host an event such as ours, you are unaware of all the work needed to pull it together.
Speaking Curator and Speaking Coaches
Hanna Hunter stepped up to the role of Speaking Curator. Her job was to source inspiring young adults in Croydon and surrounding areas and then along with the team whittle down the nominated speakers. After much deliberation due to so many outstanding young people, the designated speakers were assigned a speaking coach. The team consisted of Hanna Hunter, Paul Rhys-Taylor, Sue Fish and Ola Aralepo who helped to hone, polish and perfect not only their speeches but their delivery and nerves.
What you saw on the day were articulate, polished and engaging speakers. They had taken the time to come to rehearsals, work with their coaches and practice relentless in order to be the best they could be on the day and they were. But more about the speakers later.
Events Manager and Assistance
Cheryn Bloom had volunteered to be the event’s manager, a role with many tasks. There were the food and refreshments, venue logistics, activities during intermission, t-shirts and managing the volunteers. Luckily for us Cheryn is as organised as they come. Along with the help of her assistant Symmone Ricketts and Mohan Elango, as well as volunteers Chelsea and Ryan, they made sure that everyone was fed, hydrated, engaged and happy.
We were also so happy with our graffiti wall that came alive as Darren the artist from Graffiti Life created it before our eyes. During the second break, the audience were invited to write their views on the day, write their own spark of an idea, which they did. The wall was filled with inspiring words such as “TEDx Crew Life Changing” and “I have been inspired to find my identity”.
Sensory Sand provided an escapism to do what we all love and that is to play. Yes, play with sand and create wonderful designs in a unique and creative way. We definitely learnt that you are never too old to play and create designs.
We also loved our TEDxYouth@Croydon t-shirts that was managed by Mohan Elango. The partner’s logos were on the back and it looked fabulous.
On to Raquel Scrivens, who was in charge of inviting and ensuring our attendees came to the venue in time for registration and show time. I don’t know how many emails and phone calls she made to ensure that some of the sixth form schools in Croydon had students participating in the day, which was very important to us. Upon arrival they were given name badges with 2 names. Yes, 2 names. One being their own and the other name was part of a famous couple. Such as Beyonce and Jay-Z or Anthony and Cleopatra. Once they found their pair they received a small prize. Who knows somebody may have found the love of their life, maybe!
This was made up of the Communications Director, Samir Malak, the web designer Aleks Kola and Sieta Majok our social media correspondent.
Together the team worked tirelessly to put together an engaging website, be part of the social media conversation and to share insights about our event on facebook, twitter, instagram and flickr. These guys are the behind the scenes team.
Partnership and Sponsors
Simon Harris along with myself courted our wonderful partners (see Partners on the website) who saw our vision and wanted to be part of it. I cannot thank them enough for their vision, generosity and time they gave us to ensure that the event was a success. We are looking forward to working with them and others again next year.
The production team were from the Brit School and what a team they were. We always felt in safe hands due to their professionalism in following the TED guidelines and making sure the production ran like clockwork on the day. From miking up the speakers, to ensuring that the event was constantly being live streamed to the world, a great team
Kaushik Mehta was in charge of organising our wonderful volunteers who consisted of Chelsea, Ryan, Paige, Bayo, Mena, Aleks, Louise and Marianne. Thanks guys you worked really hard during the day and helped to create a fantastic atmosphere for everyone who attended. You also looked fabulous in those t-shirts.
Host School and Host
When I approached The Brit School, I was crossing my fingers and toes hoping that they would say yes to host the event. It was just the perfect fit for our TEDx event. The Brit School is illustrious in the world of performance and generates stars after stars from their school. The likes of Jessie J, Adele and Rizzle Kicks as well as our speakers Percelle and Joivan from Mandem On The Wall.
So when I met the head Stuart Worden and Alexa Cruickshank, the lady in charge of PR and making external performances happen, I knew by their love of TED that this would be a great union and I wasn’t wrong. Alexa worked tirelessly to make sure all the parties were briefed and that their end of things ran like clockwork. Thanks Alexa.
Due to our previous host pulling out 1 week before, all hands on deck to find an engaging and charismatic host. Along came Malachi Talabi. With a host of international speaking awards behind him and working in schools, Malachi knows how to engage any audience. I remember standing there watching him and chuckling away at his humour, audience activities and stories that he shared, thinking your good. Thanks Malachi.
The audience came from Croydon and beyond. They were absolutely amazing and gave such warm welcomes to every speaker. During the breaks they were alive with the buzz of hearing ideas and thoughts expressed in the speakers’ own unique way. It was a wonderful experience to watch them leave at the end, touched, moved and inspired.
So last but not least, we have the amazing …….
Speakers and Performers
Each speaker and performer spent hours putting together a thought provoking speech. Just watching them on the day was amazing. I felt like a proud mum, beaming at how wonderful they were.
Chirag Patel opened and intrigued us with tales of his grandparents venture into the world wide web and even facebook. Education is the key and it comes in all different forms. He was followed by Vivian Arsanious. Our Canadian, Egyptian enticed us to not let belonging stop our growth and to find our own unique path. Blessing Maregere told us that business was his alarm clock and after hearing him speak we truly believed him. A true entrepreneur. This was then followed by a pre-recorded TED Talk of dancers from The LXD. Let’s just say, I taught them everything I know! Not. Closing the first half was Tom Messenger, who shared the journey of the StreetChild World Cup in Durban. He opened with a chilling video of children aged 15 taken away in a van and lifted our spirits by showing us how StreetChild World Cup has made them visible because “I Am Somebody”
During the lunch break, they tucked into a lunch bag and drank hydrating Vita Coco coconut water… ahhh! refreshing and wondered at the Sensory Sand and the Graffiti Wall.
The room was a buzz and it was really lovely to see. When people are inspired the energy they omit is uplifting and full of joy and hope. This is the essence of a TEDx event.
Session 2 commenced with Najite Graham (Phoenix Type). Opening with poetry to delight our ears and her words to enlighten our minds. With grace and poise and fabulous timing and presence she reminded us not to be distracted with weapons of mass distraction.
Rosina St. James took the stage and our hearts when she told us how a careers officer said that she would never amount to much. So glad they were wrong because you could feel her power and strength of character shine through. Our lovely Gary Smith then took to the stage. His honesty about his illnesses and how he used the mindset of changing a barrier into a hurdle. This has been his journey and mantra throughout his life. The second half was closed with the very powerful Justina Kehinde. With deep and raw truths about the make-up of this countries history. I loved her line “I write with my grandmother’s hands, but these hands did not pluck sugar cane from the slave ploughed land”.
After a short break of writing their comments on the graffiti wall, tweeting, catch-ups and eating those scrumptious chocolate muffins, it was back for the last part of the day.
Everything had gone so well. For me it was a blur, running around making sure everything was going well. It was. Do you know why? Because I had a fabulous team behind me. All doing their part, all pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that when now coming together, was fitting together with ease.
John and Joshua Okunbaiye, the charismatic brothers showed us how a simple idea could be turned into a business and inspired us all to fill the gap. I worked with these two personally and it was such a pleasure. Continually reminded me why I put the event together. Who could follow those two, well we choose three. They go by the name of Joivan Wade, Percelle Ascott and Dee Kartier, known as Mandem On The Wall. A trio of talented actors, writers and comedians. I remember coaching them and I just gave them guidance but carte blanche for them to use their natural creativity to fill in the gaps in their speech and they did. With the new beginning and ending which I had never seen and they made up on the day. That’s talent for you. After a pre-recorded talk by Adora Svitak about “What adults could learn from kids”, a lot actually, the event was closed by The Brit Dance Group. Three wonderful and talented dancers by the name of Ivy Lamont, Rosie Clack and Blue Makwana showed us why they are dance technicians with perfect timing and flawless precision.
Then we came to the close where Malachi bid farewell and I thanked all those that had worked tirelessly to make it a fabulous event.
It was amazing to experience the day even though I was running around and would have loved to be sitting with the audience, but I know that they did truly have a wonderful time.
Like all great things that happen, there is no “I” in Team, so once again I thank all those above and those I haven’t mentioned for making our first ever event a success.
Watch out because next year. It’s going to be even bigger and better! See you then.