ChasingChange: TEDx UP focuses on creating impact out of capacity

Posted on November 04, 2019

Ideas worth spreading were shared at the 2019 edition of the TEDx University of Pretoria event. Themed “Chasing Change”, it featured six speakers who tackled a variety of topics, from the nutritional value of algae and the effect of the gut microbiome on mental disorders to the negative impact of the quota conversation in sports and modern masculinity.

The event took place at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus, where Professor Themba Mosia, Vice-Principal for Student Affairs, welcomed students.

“When the organisers briefed me on the concept ‘Chasing Change’, I initially thought, ‘I’m too old for this,’” Prof Mosia said. “But then they persuaded me to open my mind and embrace change. We’ll be listening to innovative, bright minds that can persuade even those of us nearing retirement to progress with the times – young people who are not only future leaders, but also leaders in their own right. They will help us to bring about the change we should all embrace.”

The six speakers were chosen after an extensive selection process, which was followed with training to equip them with public speaking skills.

In his talk entitled “How to raise a 21st century family man”, second-year Bachelor of Information Technology student Thato Tshukudu highlighted the issue of raising fatherless children, a challenge faced in many communities across the country.

“This is the story that more than 60% of South African children have in common: being fatherless.” Tshukudu said in his talk. “But not all hope is lost. I stand before you today as a 20-year-old male taking full advantage of natural selection to challenge young men and boys alike to evolve, to become virtuous, well-valued and involved husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles… the family men of tomorrow.”

The following speaker, medical student Kathleen Boshoff, spoke about the relationship between our gut microbiome and mental health issues.

“We could face a future where mental health disorders are diagnosed by classifying an individual’s gut microbiome, where probiotics are specifically formulated depending on the type of bacteria missing from the individual, such as coprococcus in depression,” Boshoff said. “Faecal transplants could become a viable treatment for many mental health disorders to restore an unbalanced microbiome. We as a society will have to change the entire way we view this group of people, who for too long have been stigmatised and lived without answers as to why their minds revolt against them.”

In his closing remarks, TEDx UP chairperson Emmanuel Adu-Awuku encouraged attendees to figure out what change meant to them personally.

“Before TEDx University of Pretoria, we would watch TEDx videos, close our laptop screens and perhaps go to sleep,” he said. “The idea of building a TEDx presence on campus is to take this further and create an impact beyond watching TEDx videos.

“[Change] is a perpetual action... I would like to challenge all of you to find out what chasing change means to you, and act on it.”

*Click here to watch all of the TEDx University of Pretoria talks.

- Author Masego Panyane

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