In November 2022 Sutton High School GDST staged TEDxSuttonHighSchoolGDST. The event, based on the theme of ‘Free to be Me’, explored the many facets of identity, expressing one’s authentic self and ways of achieving happiness.
How girls can thrive as their true selves
The two-hour TEDx showcased a range of speakers from the internationally renowned designer Yvonne Telford and the tech entrepreneur Jo Wimble-Groves, to Sutton High Head Beth Dawson and the Sutton High students themselves. In a diverse range of thought provoking and inspiring rhetoric, the evening explored the importance of encouraging girls to separate their own identities from the collective, so that they can learn to thrive as their true selves.
“Without me I wouldn’t have the fashion brand I have now. Every single thing it creates has me woven in it because I am not trying to be somebody else.” — Yvonne Telford, owner of Kemi Telford.
Yvonne Telford, Sutton resident, fashion designer and owner of women’s fashion brand Kemi Telford, discussed her challenging upbringing and the tipping point that allowed her to grow into becoming who she is today. Co-Owner of Active Digital, Jo Wimble-Groves argued the case for the importance of being brave, ‘raising a hand’ and how not to be afraid of failure.
“When it comes to putting your hand up, it takes courage. It takes bravery. It takes confidence. The message is about taking opportunities that present themselves.” — Jo Wimble-Groves, Co-Owner of Active Digital
Young women and leaders from across the local community
The event also provided a platform for individual expression for young women and leaders from across the local community, including Nakieah Maye, Jane Iwo and Kaisha-Wade Speid who co-founded the Halo collective, an award-winning campaign group who successfully fought for the protection and celebration of black hairstyles. Nakieah, Jane and Kaisha shared their inspiring stories around how they created the Halo Code, championing the importance of building a framework for inclusion in self-expression.
Joining these keynote speakers were eleven Sutton High School GDST students. Five Sixth Form students hosted the evening, introducing each speaker to the stage. Six Year 8 pupils shared their perspective on achieving happiness, which they have been exploring in a unique course created by Mrs Dawson.
The Confident Happy Individual Me (CHIME) course challenged students to consider their identities as their beliefs, thoughts and values. Leading up to TEDxSuttonHighSchoolGDST, pupils were able to champion their views to the class in mini-TED style talks. Diya and Hannah debated whether money can really buy your happiness, whilst Orlaith, Sahar and Kabelo spoke about their philosophy for happiness. Tharani took centre stage to share how her heritage and culture has shaped her as an individual and how that helps her to feel grounded and happy.
“Teenagers must think and learn about their identity. It is crucial to their wellbeing and emotional development…” — Beth Dawson, Sutton High Head
As part of her presentation Beth Dawson asked “Who am I?” as a call to action for teenagers as they become young adults. She said, “Teenagers must think and learn about their identity. It is crucial to their wellbeing and emotional development as underlined by the famous Socrates quote, “…once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves, but otherwise we never shall”.
“Sutton High School is part of a network of 25 Girls’ Day School Trust schools, so it is only natural that we discuss such a hot topic relevant not just to our girls but to the whole GDST community.” — Beth Dawson, Sutton High School Head
All of the TEDxSuttonHighSchoolGDST videos below: