Ally Woodard, a 7th grader at
She was invited to be one of seven headline speakers at a Dec. 1 TEDx event hosted at the world headquarters of Experian in
"I knew about TED because one of my mentors, Joanne Tawfilis, won a trip several years ago to speak at a TED conference in
The genesis of TED and its local affiliates with TEDx was in the
The theme for Ally's TEDx presentation was the ties that bind children together worldwide, no matter their race, religion or geographical location. Ally said she was given guidance by the organizers of the event.
"They told me to just speak from the heart. They said people wanted to hear about my experiences working with children in China, India, Haiti, Mexico and the Philippines, so I wrote about the amazing children I've met and what I've learned, which is that children like me want basically the same thing — a loving family, a chance to learn, to feel safe… and also a chance to just enjoy being a child. So that's what I talked about."
Other powerful speakers included Joanne Tawfilis, executive director of the United Nations Association in
TED has grown in scope and influence since 1984. In 2013 the non-profit will award a $1 million prize to a winner who has an idea that can help make the world a better place. Past winners include Bill Clinton, Bono and E.O. Wilson. When Ally's school ran an article about her TEDx experience, many of her classmates asked if she had won the million-dollar prize.
"I told them the people who had won were a lot older than me. Maybe 40 years from now I'll have a chance to do something like that."
Until then Ally intends to continue doing what she loves. That means traveling wherever she can to help kids who want the same things she does, and to hopefully speak at another TED event to spread the message of peace and goodwill for children around the world.
"I just want make a difference," she said, "and TED is a way for us to do that."
Learn more at http://www.tedxorangecoast.com/all-speakers/