You have to be on facebook in order to vote and it will ask you to do something kind for someone or yourself in order to register your vote. So, by doing so, not only will you help fellow TEDx speaker, Carrie Boucher, reach her goal … you’ll also spread a little kindness! Niiiiiiiice!
Neva also resumed her home schooling and is enjoying her study of psychology at the moment. Unfortunately, her Rosetta Stone Spanish speaking program was on her old computer which was stolen when the house was burglarized. So, we are working on a different plan so she can resume her study of Spanish. I’d like to say that she really loves schooling but, there are times, like most 15 year old girls, that she’d rather not have to do it. Regardless, she’s catching up.
When it was her time to take the stage, she smiled and spoke beautifully! Yes, I’m biased … I’m her mom. With the cameras rolling and the spotlight on her, she introduced herself not only as Neva Warren, but also as her trail name, Chipmunk. She talked about the struggles of hiking and pursuing her quest to become the youngest solo thru hiker but her message was more focused on something that happened to her when she was off the trail.
She explained that after hiking 1700 miles, she took another Zero day in the state of Vermont. Because she’s too young and not allowed to go to bars, she and a few hiker friends went to a local mall. While Papa Chip and I went online to post the blog, Neva looked in stores. She found an awesome vintage clothing store and immediately spotted a cocktail dress on display. She admired it and asked to try it on.
The clerk gave her a “once over” and declared that the cocktail dress would never fit her; that it would never zip up. In that moment, she felt ashamed of her body. The clerk mindlessly leveled her and she walked out of the store with her self-esteem at the bottom of her boots. I remember wondering that day why she was in such a funk. I asked her but she didn’t share much then. As she rehearsed her speech, my heart broke for her.
She has such a strong and powerful body … and, she is so beautiful and smart and funny and determined. She is so much more than a dress size. In her speech, she talked about how many things in our society are so askew of what’s right: Advertising that features far from average size women, Womens Sports’ advertising aimed at men that feature models portraying women in sports … and the irony that the models are paid more than the actual women who play the sports!, sports equipment ads that emphasize how the exerciser will look rather than how they will feel or how much stronger they can be.
The speech was awesome and I taped the whole thing on my phone but it’s too large for my smart(dumb) phone to handle in a Youtube upload. So, if you check out this website every now and again, you might find the finished video available soon: http://tedxyouthtampabay.com
We watched as other presenters inspired us about their passions, too. Carrie Boucher spoke about putting the "Rules" aside to do pursue her passion: sharing art with the community. Avalon Theisen spoke about her passion for frogs and explained how to conserveitforward.org. Evie Sobczak explained how her interest in algae led her to develop a scientific technique that could well lead to an affordable biodiesel fuel. Derek Tupper spoke about business models for entrepreneurs and James Geiger inspired everyone in the room to reconsider "Disabled?" and we all agreed, "I don't think so!" The emcee for the event was Matthew Temmer who has not let the diagnosis of a disease which took him away from his beloved school life, stop him from pursuing his passion in the hospitality field at his favorite place: Disney World. Rounding out the day musically was a brother and sister team known as Promenade Action. Evan and Addie Julian not only had beautiful voices, they had songs with uplifting messages in a true folk music tone.
While at the event, a radio show host approached Neva and asked if she could interview her on air and Neva said, “Sure.” They exchanged info and we’ll see what unfolds. On Saturday, she also got an invitation from an elementary school teacher in Sarasota, FL who’d like to have Neva speak with her students who are studying the Appalachian Trail. We’ll be getting back in touch with her to set something up because Neva really likes sharing her story with kids.
At the end of Neva’s TEDx talk, she spoke about the 12 Herculean tasks she’d like to perform in her lifetime. She considers our family’s 3842 mile bicycle ride to be the first and her A.T. hike to be the second. She said, “I really don’t know what I want to do next.” She told the audience how when she thinks about seemingly impossible tasks, she always remembers something Babe Ruth said: “Never let the fear of striking out hold you back.”
I hope you’ve found inspiration in both Neva’s words and actions.
Thanks again for all your support,
Tammy, Jay, Neva and Coco
a.k.a. Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip