TEDx Mamaroneck Returns for a Second Year to Shine a Light on Mental Health Awareness

Maxwell Robinson (24) addressing the audience of TEDX in the McClain auditorium.
Maxwell Robinson (’24) addressing the audience of TEDX in the McClain auditorium.
Hayley Ganis

On Tuesday, April 18th, 2024, TEDxMamaroneck hosted its second annual TedXTalk, bringing together a panel of local professionals, business leaders, and students to discuss mental health challenges. The panelists shared their knowledge and perspectives surrounding mental health in the hopes of fostering a deeper understanding of people’s emotions, mindsets, and actions. 

While TEDxMamaroneck is an independently run, grassroots program, the event borrows from the principles and ideas of “TED,” a global non-profit dedicated to spreading meaningful ideas and stories through its signature “Ted Talks.” The primary purpose of TEDX is to spark meaningful conversations and connections and discover “ideas worth spreading.” 

In 2022, Mamaroneck High School student Maxwell Robinson (24) had an “idea worth spreading” that motivated him to organize the first TEDxMamaroneck event. 

Robinson has always been passionate about addressing climate change and promoting sustainability. As a member of Mamaroneck High School’s OSR (Original Science Research) program, Robinson had the opportunity to explore environmental issues. He wanted to find a way to  relate the gravity and urgency of the climate change crisis to others and inspire them to take action. The hope is that this knowledge would “empower” students, teachers, and community members to engage in important discussions and “collaborate towards a sustainable future.” 

Robinson first discovered TEDx after talking to a friend who hosted a TEDx event at her school. He was immediately inspired by the event’s impact on the student body and overarching community. Seeking to facilitate conversations surrounding climate change and sustainability, Robinson took the steps to “pioneer an event like this [TEDx]” at Mamaroneck High School.”

Organizing, developing, and overseeing TEDxMamaroneck was a difficult and time-consuming responsibility. Robinson had to go through a rigorous licensing approval agreement to obtain permission to host the event. 

“It’s insanely complicated,” said Robinson. “You have to work on getting the school approved, book your auditorium, hire lighting, videographers, photographers, and marketers, set up a website, YouTube, and Instagram, and figure out how you are going to get people to come. And setting up the actual event day is a whole different animal.” 

Despite these challenges, Robinson asserts that the most important and challenging part of the process was finding speakers. For the first TEDxMamaroneck event in 2023, which focused on climate change, locating panelists was difficult because the program was relatively unestablished and “the word wasn’t really out,” making it hard to find people interested in speaking. Robinson brought in the majority of panelists by directly contacting them and asking them to participate in the event. 

At the most recent TEDx Mamaroneck event about mental health, Robinson did not have to seek out the panelists; many came to him. Robison attributed this new surge in interest to the growing popularity and recognizability of TEDx, explaining how there has been “a bit more of an establishment” due to the success of the first TEDxMamaroneck event. There was also a dramatic increase in attendance this year, as three times the amount of adult tickets were sold.

Ten individuals presented at the most recent TEDxMamaroneck event, ranging from psychologists and CEOs to students and wellness coaches. The speakers each spent 10-15 minutes exploring specific topics related to mental health and the perception of our surroundings and interactions. The presentations were largely interactive and visual, piquing the interest of the audience, which consisted of community members of all ages. 

The speakers at the event included but were not limited to Kate Snow, Co-Anchor of NBC News Daily and Award-Winning NBC News Senior National Correspondent; Dr. Alec Miller, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Cognitive and Behavioral Consultants (CBC); Betsy Parker, CEO and Founder of Mission-Driven Non-Profit; Sunny; and Alexa Tannenbaum and Emma Freeman, two MHS and OCRA (Original Civic Research & Engagement) students who’s project focuses on mental health. 

Tannenbaum (25) and Freeman (25) maintain a specific relevance to students with their Mental Health Policy in Action Committee at MHS, a student-faculty committee that focuses on improving education and support surrounding mental health.  As the only youth presenters at the event, the team sought to “provide more insight into teen mental health and the different factors that go into it,” as there can often be “a lot going on underneath the surface” that negatively impacts one’s mental state.

The team viewed TEDxMamaroneck as an essential way to foster communication and understanding. “We hope the audience really understands why mental health is such a big issue at MHS,” says Freeman. “Events like TEDxMamaroneck allow us to connect and, in turn, inspire new thinking.”

Events like TEDxMamaroneck allow us to connect and, in turn, inspire new thinking.

— Emma Freeman ('25)

It seems that TEDxMamaroneck will continue to “inspire” and “create change” over the next coming years, despite Robinson’s upcoming graduation. Robinson asserts that the support from the community and the school administration will play a significant role in preserving the TEDx program, adding that his sister, Alex Robinson (’26), has tentative plans to take over in the future. “I really trust them,” says Robinson, but the new team has to “learn to be different” and take a “personalized approach”. 

“Everyone is going to interpret the speakers differently and everyone has a different experience,” Robinson expresses, but that is what makes the program so “individualized” and “special.” The important thing  is that “everyone walks away with a bit of an idea of how they can better address an issue in their life or community.” 

While Robinson warns that this event was “ not easy to coordinate” and takes “a whole bunch of time and a whole bunch of work,” it also turned out to be the most “amazing and cool experience” for all parties involved.  

Ultimately, says Robinson, “Spreading these messages are important, and I hope that people continue to hear them. People need to hear them.”

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