The 5 best TedxTeen videos for instant motivation and inspiration

Shayna Sujanani

After years of inspiring Ted Talks, TedxTeen is giving young people a platform to share their messages

Shayna Sujanani |

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Professors, specialists, celebrities: anyone with a story to share can host a Ted Talk. Since 2006, there have been more than 2,400 Ted lecture videos available online – on subjects ranging from psychology and medicine, to the latest tech advancements and social media musings.

However, the thought-provoking talks are sometimes hard for young people to relate to. So TedxTeen invites young people to talk about their real stories and experiences, share their ideas, and reveal ideas they hope will change the world. From app developers to cancer researchers, here are five of TedxTeen’s most inspiring talks to watch when you need a bit of motivation.

Ann Makosinski: Why I Don’t Use A Smartphone

Eighteen-year-old Ann Makosinki didn’t have an ordinary childhood. She was banned from watching TV, using a mobile phone, and even from playing with toys. So she was forced to find entertainment in obscure items, such as a box of wires. For years, she made all her own toys, which sparked her interest in inventing.

Why she’ll inspire you:

Ann has invented torches powered by the heat energy in your hand, and phone-charging travel mugs that use energy from hot water to provide electricity for mobile devices. She says her inventive streak was powered by her parents’ decision to deprive her of toys.

In her talk, she encourages young people and adults to be more creative and independent, instead of relying on smartphones or laptops for entertainment.

So next time you’re bored and pick up your phone, stop and think: can I use my spare time to create something instead?

Jack Andraka: A Promising Test For Pancreatic Cancer ... From A Teenager

After a close family friend went from good health to dying of pancreatic cancer within just six months, 15-year-old Jack Andraks got to work researching this deadly disease. He found the shocking statistic that in 85 per cent of cases, patients only have a 2 per cent chance of survival, often because they are diagnosed too late.

He discovered that the late diagnoses was due to doctors using a 60-year-old pancreatic cancer test. He went from not knowing what a pancreas was to changing the future of cancer diagnosis.

Why he’ll inspire you:

Jack is already on his way to creating a test that detects pancreatic cancer early. His test is inexpensive, fast, sensitive, and minimally invasive. His previous attempts have shown to work with 100 per cent accuracy, and the process only takes five minutes.

Jack’s story is an example that we don’t always need a university degree to come up with a life-changing idea. Sometimes you just need motivation and the Internet.

Caitlin Haacke: How To Make Positivity Stick

Caitlin Haacke was bullied for years as a child, but one day when a bully told her to die, she decided to put an end to the abuse once and for all.

Why she’ll inspire you:

At 16 years old, Caitlin created Positive Post-it Day. It started off when she stuck Post-it notes with uplifting and kind messages all around her school. Soon enough, Positive Post-it Day became popular internationally, starting with schools in Brazil, before spreading to Japan, the UK, and even the UAE.

Caitlin’s story is testament to kindness being a stronger force than negativity.

Thomas Suarez: A 12-Year-Old App Developer

When Thomas Suarez was 12 years old, he downloaded coding programs such as Java and Python to help him “get the basics down”. He quickly got the hang of it, and soon enough he began to develop his own iPhone apps, which he would then release on the App Store.

Why he’ll inspire you:

Thomas started an App Club at his school, and began to share his knowledge and passion of coding with others. Now at 15, he’s even started his own company, CarrotCorp, and has built a 3D printer that is supposedly ten times faster then what is already on the market.

Let’s just say that no one is too young to design an app!

Natalie Warne: Anonymous Extraordinaries

When she was 17, Natalie discovered the documentary Invisible Children by the organisation of the same name. The film exposed Africa’s longest running war, led by the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.

Filled with determination, Natalie set out to become a volunteer with the organisation to lead an event called The Rescue in more than 100 cities worldwide.

Why she’ll inspire you:

Her enthusiasm and drive influenced tens of thousands to become involved, and her strong-willed attitude landed her and Invisible Children a spot on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about their cause and spread the word.

All it took was a documentary for Natalie to be inspired to make a change. What will inspire you?