TEDxYouth@Lancaster 2019

TEDxYouth@Lancaster took place June 30, 2019 at the Ware Center in downtown Lancaster. The theme was Rising Above. The event featured 10 speakers and an emcee, who ranged in age from 13 to 20. To view the event program, click here. To view pictures from the event, click here. There was also an Exhibition Hall featuring:

African drumming and tribal dancing

Circus School of Lancaster

Cultural instruments

KPETS (Therapy dogs)


North Museum

Selfie station

Snapology of Lancaster & Reading, a S.T.E.A.M. education company & Discovery Center

Spheros and Vex robots

TEDxYouth@Lancaster on WITF’s Smart Talk!

Speakers Bekah Gerace, Gaurav Mittal, and TEDxLancaster Executive Director Bob Vasile were on WITF’s Smart Talk on June 26th. To hear the broadcast, click on the play button below. The TEDxYouth@Lancaster portion starts at the 30:00 mark.


Lancaster Newspaper Article on TEDxYouth@Lancaster

To read the article from Lancaster Online, click here.


Ainsley Elkner, 16, has been watching TED talks through most of her school career, and when she heard about an opportunity to help plan the event she was happy to join the team. She became part of the Curation Committee, helping to select the speakers and edit their scripts. She is grateful for the opportunity to emcee this year’s event, and it will be her first time doing so. Ainsley is a sophomore at Donegal High School, where she is a member of the National Math Honors Society, Science Olympiad, German Club, and Debate Club. She has a passion for travel, especially international, and is looking forward to participating in a short German exchange program with her school. She also plans to study abroad in college. She is fascinated by language and culture, and hopes to become fluent in multiple languages throughout her life. In school, she enjoys the sciences, especially lab courses like biology and chemistry. She currently plans to major in molecular biology. After getting her doctorate, she hopes to find a research position so that she can continue to work in a lab for the rest of her life. In her free time, she enjoys photography, listening to music, and biking on the river trail near her home.


Hold yourself accountable and never be held back

Janyssa Berrios, 17, is a proud Red Tornado and a senior at JP McCaskey High School. She was born in Lancaster, PA where her immigrated family from Puerto Rico has lived for many generations. Janyssa, also known as Jany, is involved in her high school as a certified peer mediator, a teacher’s assistant for a 2nd and 4th grade class at a local elementary school, a junior captain on the High School Varsity soccer team where she started as a freshman, a member of the wrestling team, and a member of the National Honors Society. During her junior and senior year of high school, she converted sports and became a female wrestler after playing soccer for 10 years of her life. People who know Jany say that she is tenacious and very positive and wants everybody to be understanding and also happy. Things she enjoys includes poetry, music, yoga, heavy lifting, reading, spending time with her little brother, eating chocolate, and expanding her very interesting collection of panda collectibles as she is a big fan of pandas. Janyssa will be continuing her education at Gannon University as a member of the female wrestling team, member of the Honors program, majoring in Criminology, and getting certified for her personal training and nutritional license.


How Photography Changed Why I Can't Into Why Can't I?

Evan Davidson, 20, says his parents always joked that for him, high school and college were more like a hobby. It’s not that he doesn’t take it seriously, it’s more like being just one of his many interests. Evan’s high school years were filled with a diverse selection of activities that helped to round out and complement his educational experience. Evan was in the marching band, ski club, and president of the photography club. At the age of 16, he filed for an LLC and in 2016, he launched Evan Davidson Photography, LLC. Evan started making vlogs in high school and is still making them on his YouTube channel. More recently, Evan is studying communications at Millersville University, focusing primarily on broadcasting. Another one of Evan’s passions has been making short films. Evan has been all over the country shooting all different sorts of projects. Evan is very passionate in his faith and spent a week in Haiti working with underprivileged students in the town of Saint-Marc. Evan loves biking, going for walks, trying new restaurants, and making new friends.


What defines you is you

Olivia Eichler, 13, is a student in the Penn Manor School District. Some of her interests include dance, musical theater, and American Sign Language. She enjoys working at various theaters including American Music Theater and Dutch Apple. Throughout her talk, her goal is to give people a different outlook on unique situations and moving past hard starts in life. She wants to thank all of the people who supported her through the process of this talk, and specifically the TEDxYouth@Lancaster program for giving her this opportunity!


Removing the Stigma Around Mental Health

Bekah Gerace, 17, was born and raised in Lancaster County. She comes from a beautifully blended family, and has six siblings ranging in ages from 27 to 7, who have also been a source of encouragement and support. Bekah recently graduated from Manheim Township High School where she participated in cross country and the suicide prevention and awareness club, Aevidum. While at Manheim Township, she participated in the Spanish Immersion program from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Through her high school years, she has faced cancer and many mental health challenges, which have helped shape her into the person she is today. In her free time, Bekah enjoys writing poetry, photography, listening to music, spending time with her friends, and a number of outdoor activities, such as hiking and canoeing. Bekah is taking a gap year to work and save money for college. She says she will hopefully be attending Penn State Berks in the fall of 2020. Bekah is hoping to pursue a career in case management to assist those struggling with an untreated mental health diagnosis. Through her personal experiences, she is aware of the growing need for not only a change in attitude and perception, but also in the quality of care in the mental health community.


Your brightest future is in the pasT

Raif Groves, 13, will be an 8th grader at Solanco Middle School. From a young age, Raif has shown a passion for history. Military history is his favorite.  He had the privilege of writing and giving a speech the past three years on Memorial Day to honor veterans at a service in his hometown of Quarryville, PA. He was also asked to give one of the speeches at the Miss Solanco Pageant where their theme was honoring those who have served our country. Raif enjoys a broad range of musical interests. He has been playing violin since he was 8 years old and enjoys bluegrass and fiddle music. He plays with his school orchestra, as well as the Lancaster Intermezzo orchestra. He also had a lead role in the school musical.  Raif sings in Smith Singers, a group at his middle school, which competed in Boston and earned gold awards in all ensembles. He was one of nine boys to be selected for the barbershop group at school where he sang baritone. Raif also loves sports. He is a member of the wrestling team, and throws the shot put and discus in track. One of his favorite after school activities is weight lifting. When he is out of school, Raif loves helping with projects on his grandparents’ farm.


Invisible Disabilities: Seeing Others With Compassion

Valerie Kosson, 20, is a Music Performance major at Lebanon Valley College. She began studying piano, snare and bells, and marimba during elementary school, received the “Outstanding Band Student of the Year” award in middle school, and went on to play with the York Junior Symphony Orchestra at Penn State York. Valerie traveled and competed with her award-winning high school marching band for four years. During her last two summers of high school, she competed in Drum Corps International, performing with the Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps. The corps placed in the top 10 in the finals, which took place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Valerie was inducted into the National Honors Society in her sophomore year. She graduated from Susquehannock High School Magna Cum Laude in 2017. Val won first place in both the Keystone Indoor Drumline Association solo percussion competition and the Tri-M Music Honor Society Concerto competition playing marimba. Valerie is currently a member of the Lebanon Valley College marching band, choir, hand-bell choir ensemble, and percussion ensemble. In addition, Valerie was a featured guest on the recording in 2009, “Sea to Shining Sea: A Tapestry of American Music.” She has toured as guest percussionist in the American Tapestry ensemble. Val loves taking on challenging pieces and wants to continue growing as a musician and percussionist. Val lives in south central Pennsylvania with her parents and four cats, Tilly-lou, Lance, Carmel and Jackson.


How to Spot Fake News

Hannah Logue, 14, is a rising freshman at Ephrata High School. She was a captain of both her middle school soccer team and Quiz Bowl team. She enjoys playing year round soccer with her club team, Penn United Force. Hannah also plays saxophone in the school band. She was the Public Relations officer for the middle school student council, and has been elected as a member-at-large for the high school student council. Hannah also has discovered an enthusiasm for video production, and her group recently won the regional “Outstanding Creativity” award in the statewide What’s So Cool About Manufacturing video contest. She has interests in public speaking and politics as well. She has taken part in the county-wide Oratory Invitational at Cocalico, acted in various plays and musicals at both the middle school and high school levels, and loves to derail her teacher’s lesson plans with debates on current events and other topics, just for the sake of argument.



Madison Lucey, 16, is a rising senior at Commonwealth Charter Academy. She accumulated extra credits during her sophomore year in high school in order to skip her junior year. Madison serves as President of her school’s National Honor Society, President of the Youth and Government delegation, and President of the Future Business Leaders of America chapter. She invented a life-saving device for children. She has done extensive legal research and wrote a public safety bill which is on its way to becoming Pennsylvania state law. Madison has worked closely with senators in gaining bipartisan support for her bill. She additionally led a robotics team while doing an internship at AgWorks, the largest educational aquaponics facility in the country. Her team invented an automated plant seeder robot using artificial intelligence and machine learning to help prepare for a more sustainable future. She is an autodidact who is proficient at six computer programming languages. She has also taken classes from HarvardX in computer science and research. To improve her leadership skills, Madison has attended a 4-day leadership training at the FBLA State Leadership Conference receiving three awards. As an entrepreneur, she started a business. In her free time, Madison has a passion for tutoring and doing volunteer work helping disabled people to achieve a higher quality of life. She also enjoys dancing, playing her guitar, writing songs, and singing. Madison plans on getting an advanced degree in Computer Science and then pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree.


Brain Computer Interface: Rising Above the Neuromuscular Traffic Jam

Gaurav Mittal, 16, is a rising senior at Manheim Township High School in Lancaster, PA. He demonstrates a strong interest and passion in the STEM field and has received many accolades in various regional and international level Science and Engineering competitions. He is current serving as the Vice President of the Technology and Engineering Club as well as the Vice President of the National Honor Society at his high school. He is also equally passionate about creating instrumental music. He recently released his very first fingerstyle guitar album on all leading music platforms featuring cover songs from famous artists. His other interests include attending car shows and sharing his car photography on social media. He hopes to be able to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering with an eventual career in the healthcare field.


Embracing Pain

Hannah Wheeler, 17, is a recent graduate from Solanco High School. During her senior year, she attended Lancaster County Career and Technology Center for their Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Program. She will be attending Ithaca College in the fall for Occupational Therapy. She fell in love with the profession by attending Occupational Therapy for her pain disorder. Her pain disorder has revealed her passion for helping people in the midst of their pain. She has worked with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital to raise money and make cards for children with pain disorders. She has enjoyed being a summer camp counselor for the past two years and hopes to continue working with children and people with special needs. In her spare time, she also enjoys being outdoors, running, swimming, biking, and spending time with her family. She has two siblings, a twin sister and a younger sister.


Below are the TED videos that were shown at TEDxYouth@Lancaster 2019