Helena Albert, a 17-year-old senior from Scranton Prep, will be sharing her story at the upcoming TEDxYouth@Scranton conference on Sept. 9 at West Scranton High School, speaking on the topic of ‘Fear and Fascination’. Helena has become a beacon of hope to those who are bullied and inspires others to love themselves through her original songs. She will be sharing her personal struggles with self-harm and being bullied and performing two original songs entitled ‘Love Yourself a Lot’ and ‘Pushed Away.’
TED Talks began in 1984 as a nonprofit organization that covers all topics of life from the environment to politics to the arts. TED Talks on YouTube and in the TED Talks app continue to find success, and there are now two conferences a year that reach out to people all over the world. With past speakers such as Bill Gates and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, TED Talks have grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
TEDxYouth@Scranton is essentially the same idea, but it is focused on topics that relate to a younger age group. Each speaker or performer for this conference is given ten minutes to discuss a certain topic, and he or she can sing, play an instrument, read poetry, speak, or do whatever it is he or she chooses to do to make the biggest impact. TEDxYouth Scranton’s website explains that the goal is to ‘encourage learning about and experiencing the world in new and different ways.’
This September conference will have all different types of speakers and performers from bakers to programmers to relationship coaches to urban word enthusiasts. The ages of the presenters range from seven to middle-aged, but all of the topics boil down to ones that teenagers and young adults can learn from. In the past, TEDxYouth Scranton held another conference at the University of Scranton with the theme ‘Revitalize This!’, where presenters discussed different ways that urban innovation affect our community.
This is Helena’s first year participating in the TEDxYouth Talks, but she has been working on her presentation for six months. What inspired her to become involved is her own nonprofit called Love Yourself a Lot, a nonprofit that allows people to recruit Helena to speak at different events to tell her story. Helena focuses on bringing awareness to bullying and stigmatized subjects like mental illness and self-harm.
“It’s going to be great. There are going to be several kids my age, and it’s great because they are such kind-hearted people,” Helena explained. “If you feel strongly about the rights of other people or the issues people don’t want to speak about, TED Talks is definitely something you should look into.”
Helena has been singing since she was four years old, and she has been singing professionally for three and a half years now. Growing up, she was always scared because of the people who bullied her. Several years later, she has turned that fear into something beautiful that can help others.
“You go on Facebook and social media and you just see everyone tearing each other apart. And I want to bring people up. Even the people tearing each other apart have something going on,” she said.
The proudest moment so far in her career of inspirational appearances has been performing with her biggest role model, Renee Yohe, the inspiration for the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms. Renee, an advocate and speaker for self-love and hope, traveled to one of Helena’s performances and surprised her.
But even though Helena has conquered her fear of bullying, she still struggles telling her full story. She explained that writing her speeches is very hard, and she doubted if she wanted the world to know. But, she realizes she needs to be honest about what she does and share everything so she can help others. Through this upcoming TEDxYouth event, she is aiming for others to see that there is hope.
Aside from making appearances at events, Helena has recently been filming covers of songs and posting them on YouTube, which can be found here.
Although Helena has had her share of hardships, they have never stopped her from spreading happiness and hope to others who need it. Catch her speech at the next TEDxYouth Scranton Conference on Friday, Sept. 9, at West Scranton High School. Doors open at 4:30PM and admission is free.
For more information aTEDxYouth, visit tedxscranton.com, or visit ted.com/talks to find TED Talks.
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