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Sutton High Students ask "What makes me happy?" as they host first ever TEDx event.

Introducing ‘Free to be me,’ a TEDx Youth event hosted by Sutton High School GDST.

See photos from the event here. Official videos can be found at the end of this article.

On Wednesday 16th November Sutton High School GDST staged its first ever TEDx event, TEDxSuttonHighSchoolGDST, ‘Free to be me’.

The two-hour TEDx explored the importance of how we should encourage girls to separate their own identities from the collective, so that they can learn to thrive as their true selves.

Sutton High Head, Beth Dawson explained,

“The principal aim of our Free to be me TEDx was to look at ways we can encourage our girls to express themselves and be their authentic selves.  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 school 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.

Eleven current Sutton High School GDST students, took part in the event. Five Sixth Form students hosted the entire evening, introducing each speaker to the stage. Six Year 8 pupils each shared their perspective on achieving happiness, which they have been exploring in a unique course created by Mrs Dawson (CHIME). The course challenged students to consider their identities as their beliefs, thoughts and values. Leading up to TEDxSuttonHighSchoolGDST, pupils were able to extol 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.

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.

As part of her presentation, Sutton High School GDST Head, 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”.

She added,

“Our TEDx event has been a tremendous success and we are so proud of all of our girls.  We are also indebted to each of our speakers who did an outstanding job of inspiring us with their stories.  Sincere thanks go to all of the local community leaders and dignitaries who joined us including Councillor Trish Fivey, Mayor of Sutton.”


TEDx is a grassroots initiative, created in the spirit of TED’s overall mission to research and discover “ideas worth spreading.”  TEDx brings the spirit of TED to local communities around the globe through TEDx events.