Hinsdale home to youngest TEDx speaker
Last updated 1/17/2024 at 3:40pm | View PDF
I haven't watched all that many TED talks, but my favorite is one by a Hinsdale resident.
Oh, did I mention that he's in preschool?
At 4 years, 9 months and 22 days old, Bennet Haried became the youngest TEDx speaker Oct. 23 at an event organized by his preschool, Avery Coonley in Downers Grove.
Bennet spoke on "Building Big Dreams: You Have to Make it Stable."
It all came about when Kenny Bae, director of STEAM innovation at Avery Coonley, decided to organize a TEDx event at the school, Bennet's dad, Alex Haried, told me. Bae thought it would be fun to have the youngest speaker ever do a TEDx talk and asked teachers to recommend a 4-year-old. (The record was held by a 5-year-old.)
"Mrs. Evans immediately thought of Bennet," Alex said.
The next step was to get his parents on board.
"We got the phone call in the middle of the summer asking if we would be interested in supporting this journey," his mom, Melanie Lamoureux, said. "We said
that we would.
"We were excited about the opportunity because TED talks are amazing and to have a 4-year-old accomplish something so big is an exciting thing to witness as a parent," she added.
Her dad, Bennet's grandpa, started playing "let's give a TED talk" with Bennet. And eventually the idea to focus on stability emerged.
"Bennet loves to build stuff. He's always building with his toys at home," Melanie said.
And if his parents' structures toppled over, he always has the same advice.
" 'It fell down because you didn't make it stable. You have to make it stable,' he would say," Melanie said. "We took that idea and related the idea of building stability in your towers out of toys to building stability in your educational journey."
Melanie and Bae worked on the script, with help from Bennet.
"I took out some words," he explained.
And then came memorizing the four-plus minute speech. After spending a week learning his first line - introducing himself - he got more excited, his mom said. And they divided the talk into chunks to make it easier to learn.
"He would be like, 'I want to learn two chunks today,' " Melanie said.
And the adults knew how to motivate Bennet once he had made the commitment.
"Mr. Bae gave him a sucker every time we had a rehearsal," his mom said. "Yes, we had to bribe him with pizza and taco lunches and lots of candy."
On filming day, his parents were nervous he might experience some stage fright.
"He didn't feel any of it and just gave one of the best ones I'd seen him practice," Alex said. "It just came together and we were like, 'Oh, this looks really good.' "
I met Bennet Monday, along with his older sister, Juliette, who is 6, and his younger sister, Zoe, who is 18 months. Things were a little crazy at times, as you might imagine with three small kids.
"A lot of rehearsals looked like this," Alex said. "A lot of rehearsals looked really good."
Apparently Bennet's experience giving his TEDx talk didn't translate to answering reporters' questions.
"We're practicing his interviewing skills," Melanie told me. "You are getting much more than the CBS television interview."
Bennet demonstrated his bow for me (with some help from dad) and shared his catch phrase: "You have to keep it stable."
I asked if he'd like to do another TEDx talk and got an immediate thumbs down. But I think he'll still be able to meet the goal his parents have set for him.
"I got a C plus in my freshman year speech class at St. Ignatius and then got better," Alex said. "We're hoping that he does better in his freshman year speech class than I did."
- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].