Meaningful Connections at TEDxYouth@StMarysCollege

​St Mary's College Maryborough students, staff & guest speaker Megan Savill

Public speaking is something a lot of people dread, but that's certainly not the case for St Mary's College Maryborough students, who were inspiring speakers at their recent 2022 TEDxYouth@StMarysCollege event.

This annual initiative began in 2021, with St Mary's College Maryborough being the first College in Queensland to hold a TEDxYouth event, which requires licensing with TED.

TEDx are independently run events with a program centered around a theme, with St Mary's College's 2022 TEDx theme being 'Meaningful Connections'.

This highly anticipated event consisted of a full program on Tuesday 23 August 2022 with hundreds of hours behind the scenes to organise, thanks to St Mary's College Maryborough staff Kirsty Patterson, Desley Lourigan, Aleeca Waterman and Glenys Nash.

Year 10 students are most encouraged to apply as participation supports their oral English assessment, however, applications are open to all students, with seven​ selected to speak for this year.

With a 100-person audience limitation set by TED, Year 6 students from St Mary's Primary Maryborough were invited to create meaningful connections.

Special guests included Deputy Mayor Paul Truscott, Senior Leader Karen Harrison, St Mary's Primary Principal Michelle White and St Mary's College Maryborough Principal Tameika Grist.

Parents of speakers were also invited, watching their children with pride as they presented on the following topics:

  • Ava Wilchek – How soldier's writings better represent the truth of war, rather than what is portrayed in movies, games and the media.
  • Laura Davies – Used LEGO to explain how others can influence your life and how you can help influence others.
  • Mackenzie Hawken – Vulnerably shared her experience with grief, loss, and not taking tomorrow for granted.
  • Mia Thomas – The concept of a modern family, the definition of family and how these “families" have impacted her life.
  • Rosie-May Proudlove – Advocated for childhood cancer research, sharing a personal battle.
  • Skyla Birch – Concerns of teen suicide and the rising trend amongst her age group, and
  • Sophie Rider – Connection to culture and sensitivity for those with different backgrounds.

These inspiring students spoke with passion and confidence, utilising powerful communication skills.

“The TEDx event hosted by St Mary's College Maryborough was so impressive," said Karen Harrison.


“I was excited to be able to attend this year and see firsthand the skills of student speakers and the contributions of student voice around contemporary adolescent issues related to the theme of 'Meaningful Connections'.

“The topics of identity, grief, cultural understanding, and social pressures, to name a few, that explored positive relationships were insightful and engaging to the student and parent audience alike."


St Mary's College Maryborough Principal Tameika Grist with Senior Leader Karen Harrison.

In addition, the TEDxYouth@StMarysCollege event enhanced the school's strong connection to the wider community, with guest speaker Megan Savill, founder of Lioness Business Development in attendance, with the aim of empowering students to be the best person they can be, from the lessons she learned from having a demanding corporate life and dealing with burnout.

While the second half of the day consisted of speeches engaging students mentally, the first half of the day engaged students emotionally, spiritually, and physically, with three workshops around the 'meaningful connections' theme.


The Neighbourhood Hive focused on connection to community, with interactive stations to motivate action on issues such as the urban environment, community subgroups, and youth homelessness.


Michael Green from Integrated Development Academy guided connection to self via a meditation session in the beautiful surroundings outside the Brolga Theatre where the event was hosted, with thanks to the support of the local council.


Adrian Patterson highlighted the importance of connection to the environment through a First Nations perspective, particularly important as faith-filled individuals with a responsibility to care for our common home, as called for by Pope Francis' Laudato Si'.


The TEDxYouth@StMarysCollege event participants and attendees left enriched and full of hope for the future. There is excitement for their 2023 event – sure to be an even bigger and better learning experience and a highlight of the year.




About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today's leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED's annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED's open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the TED Translators Program, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a "wish," or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, on Facebook at or Instagram at

About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

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