TEDx for Kids

Hana with Diya Isha, a college student in India who organized a recent TEDxYouth conference in the coastal city of Kannur

Earlier this month, the E.K. Nayanar Academy in Kannur, India, hosted a TEDxYouth conference. Diya Isha, a local college student, organized the event, which brought together speakers from an array of backgrounds.

Diya first got involved in TED (which is short for Technology, Education, and Design), when she was asked to speak at a conference at her school. The nonprofit organization encourages participants around the world to share their ideas with each other. 

“I decided to bring TED to Kannur because I didn’t feel like there was a platform here,” Diya told me. “TED’s general idea is to unearth local voices, and there are many underrepresented people here who deserve an international platform.”

The theme at the Kannur event was “Crossroads of Change.” Isha explained that the topic was designed to encourage participants to make connections between “faith, growth, and skepticism.” 



One of the keynote speakers was Mir Mohammed Ali, a former district collector in Kannur, a coastal city in southern India. Collectors administer India’s 600 districts, of which Kannur is one.

Ali talked about some of his accomplishments as collector, including cutting down on the amount of plastic waste in the district. “Kannur used to generate thousands of plastic bags,” he said. “We intervened successfully, getting supermarkets and other shops to voluntarily give up plastic bags and switch to cloth and paper instead.”

Another of Ali’s initiatives was Satyameva Jayate, or “Truth Alone Triumphs.” The program tackled the problem of so-called fake news. “We trained children from about 200 schools how to identify, detect, and respond to fake news online,” Ali explained. 


Hana with Mir Mohammed Ali, a former district collector in the coastal city of Kannur


Another speaker, Aysha Mahmood, shared her experiences as a psychologist, civil rights activist, and entrepreneur. She founded and runs her own business, Soochi Embroidery.

“When I was first introduced to feminism, I was under the impression that embroidery wasn’t feminist,” Mahmood said. “I learned that anything can be feminist.”

Mahmood started her awareness mission with a series called 100 Days of Creativity and Feminism. “I started putting what I learned into the images I embroidered,” she said.

While Mahmood expresses herself through embroidery, Aminah Neemah, a college student, expresses herself through writing and speaking. At just 17, she was selected as Saudi Arabia’s best speaker. She has been speaking to groups since she was in the sixth grade.

“Speaking is a platform for me to express everything I have on my mind,” Aminah said. She often shares the stories of abused children and educates young people about their rights.

Aminah hopes that her advocacy will help build a brighter future. “I hope that we start embracing our differences and become more accepting,” she said. “I want everyone in this world to have a safe place to be themselves.” 

Photos courtesy of the author