Inspired young minds take the stage at TEDxYouth event

These five youth want to change the world. They will speak at the first ever TedxYouth@Moncton event that will feature youth and youth-related speakers talking about "Sustainable Lifestyles". Meet them here first.

Sustainable lifestyles is the topic of this year's event on June 15 in Moncton

Meet five youth who want to change the world, each in their own way. While they all have different approaches to sustainability, they all agree that action is urgently needed before it's too late. Each of these teens are speakers at the upcoming TEDxYouth@Moncton event on June 15, speaking on the topic of sustainable lifestyles.

Amaya Leger

(Robert Short)

Amaya Leger is a New Brunswick teen who's passionate about many things: art, gardening, and personal growth to name a few. She'll be delivering her TEDx talk in Moncton all about how changing our mindsets can improve our lives and help save the planet. "Without motivation, it's hard to make progress on any big problems," says Amaya. "Like saving the planet." 

"When I think about the environment and the future, I am very scared," Amaya says. "I feel like there's not a lot of people who put their focus on the environment, and their home. Because this is where we live. And it makes me very scared, because there's not much I can do, but I do as much as I can."

Amaya believes her generation wants to change the world. But she's worried it might be too late. "With enough hard work, I think it's possible if we all come together."

Beth Stevens

(submitted by Shelley Stevens)

Beth Stevens wanted to build a volcano for her school science project. After a conversation around the dinner table with her family one night, she decided she would do something that could make a positive impact instead. Beth decided to invent an LED light for cyclists that illuminates the road so drivers can visualize one metre, the distance the law in N.B. states that drivers must be from someone on a bicycle.

"Learning can be more than a grade, it can solve problems too and have a positive impact on the community," says Beth. Teaching and learning about real-world problems in the classroom is Beth's topic for her TEDxYouth talk in Moncton. She says this approach can help lead to a sustainable future.

Beth is hopeful that her generation can change the world, but in order to do so, they need to understand more about the world's problems. She says, "if all teachers could listen to my talk and if they could teach more real-world issues, the future generation can become more sustainable."

Brooklyn Wilkins

(Robert Short)

After struggling with mental health issues for years, Brooklyn is ready to share what she's learned from her experiences with her peers. For a long time, she thought she couldn't be depressed. "I thought, I don't have a bad life...there's no way this can happen to me." Now, she wants to help break the stigma around mental illness. "This can happen to anyone, and it's something that you do need help with." 

She says for teens today, depression and anxiety can be at its worst when they're busiest. There's a lot of pressure to improve, achieve and succeed. "We can't disconnect from the world around us. It follows us home in a little Apple package." 

This year's TEDxYouth@Moncton theme is sustainable lifestyles. "A lot of people hear sustainable living and think it's the environment, and it's getting rid of plastic, and it's global warming," Brooklyn says. "Which is true. But it's also how to sustain ourselves, and how to be better as the world evolves."

"I'm terrified of what is going to happen in the future, environment-wise," Brooklyn says. "But I have hope," she says. "A lot of people in my generation are forward-thinkers. I'm so proud of my generation and what they're doing."

Mackenzie Lawrence

(Robert Short)

What can a 17 year-old know of death? A lot, it turns out. Mackenzie Lawrence from Riverview, N.B. has a passion for learning about sustainable death choices. Now, she's bringing that knowledge to a public stage at the TEDxYouth event in Moncton. 

Mackenzie says she became interested in learning about death practices across cultures and throughout history after watching a YouTube show starring a renowned mortician, Caitlin Doughty. "She is such an inspiration to me. She talks about death in such a frank and open way," Mackenzie says. 

Mackenzie thinks speaking more openly about death would help people relieve their anxieties around the topic. "It only becomes more of an unknown when we don't talk about it. Death is so complicated and it really doesn't have to be. It's so natural, it's so human." She hopes her TEDx talk will help inform her community on how death practices could be more sustainable.

"Death is a business," says Mackenzie. "A lot of the things we do now are not sustainable for our environment. We're putting treated wood and metal and chemicals into our earth every year because we don't know that we don't have to. We don't know that there are options to go unembalmed, that we don't need to be put in the ground in coffins."

When she thinks about her future, "I'm terrified, honestly." Mackenzie isn't scared of death, she's scared of the climate crisis. "If nothing stops it, there's not going to be a future for me, for people my age, for the next generation. There's not going to be anything left for us." 

"I would seriously hope that my generation is going to be the ones to make serious change," Mackenzie says. "It's time for it. The time was 50 years ago."

Quinn MacAskill

(Robert Short)

Thirteen year-old Quinn MacAskill doesn't really like poetry. And yet, one day, a poem just came to her. The words flowed, and they rhymed. "Today to Tomorrow" is a slam poem about the climate crisis, and she's now performed it several times in New Brunswick. She'll perform it again at the TEDx Youth event in Moncton. "My TEDx talk is about how art can play an important role in the climate crisis," she says. 

Quinn thinks art created with a message about the climate crisis could help drive change. "Normal ways of conveying information aren't interesting and they don't evoke any emotion in people. Art can inspire people to take action."

Quinn quotes the UN's The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which recently warned that we have just 12 years left to try and limit the climate catastrophe. "That was several months ago, so we're closer to 11 years now. And I'm only 13," she says. "The change needs to happen before I'm even old enough to get a job. That's why the change needs to come from the adults."

In March, a record-setting 1.6 million youth globally went on strike to protest climate change, including Quinn and many of her peers in Sackville, N.B. "The Youth Climate Strike movement is bringing some change and waking people up a bit, but change isn't happening fast enough. And it's my future."

Skye Ables

(Robert Short)

Not as many women pursue degrees or jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as men do. Skye Ables wants to help change that.

Skye is one of the speakers delivering a talk at the TEDx Youth event in Moncton. This year's theme is sustainable living. Skye says we're not going to save the planet if we're only educating half the population. 

"Educating girls is the key to sustainability," says Skye. She's inspired by Malala Yousafzai, who famously said "we cannot all succeed if half of us are held back." 

After attending the World Maker Fair in New York, Skye was inspired to pursue a career in bio-medical prosthetics. "I was holding a soldering iron and I was showing kids how to build a light, and I just realized this is what I want to do." Skye will attend the University of New Brunswick for engineering this fall. "When I was growing up, I didn't know any women in the STEM fields and I didn't have anyone to look up to. I want to change that for the future."

Skye says when she thinks about climate change, "I am scared of the future...there needs to be a big change. I really hope that my generation will change the world."

For more information about TEDxYouth@Moncton or to get tickets visit the TEDxMoncton website.