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TEDxRVA brings inspiration to Downtown

Joey Matthews | 4/15/2016, 11:45 a.m.
A university president with a comedic touch. A burlesque performer on a mission to continue the revival of her craft.
Virginia State University President Makola Abdullah encourages audience members to tap into the entire brain sphere during his talk last Friday at TEDxRVA 2016 at the Carpenter Theatre. Photo by Joey Matthews

He said he seeks to promote unity among people of different cultures by performing “public music” in locales ranging from Richmond to small villages in Africa.

He recalled the trepidation he felt when he performed in a town in Nairobi, Kenya, only a few days after the terrorist group Al-Shabaab had bombed a nearby location a few days earlier.

Allison Jackson, a trauma informed care specialist with the Richmond Department of Social Services, told audience members how adults sometimes face lifelong physical, emotional and mental health problems as a result of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs such as neglect and abuse.

She told of one child who developed a range of problems as an adult after no person or agency helped or mentored the child after traumatic childhood experiences.

She then described another child who experienced trauma and later had developmental problems. But that youngster later was able to thrive with the help of a caring adult.

To loud applause, Ms. Jackson revealed she was that child.

“Relationship is the evidence-based best practice,” she said.

Gaynell Sherrod, who chairs Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Dance and Choreography and is a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar specializing in African-derived dance forms, provided an energetic conclusion to the session when she came onstage dancing.

She told the audience that she developed a love of dancing at age 4.

She encouraged audience members to dance as “if everyone is watching you.”

She offered other beads of wisdom, including “give yourself permission to be great,” “determine your reality” and “create possibilities.”

Dr. Sherrod smiled as audience members enthusiastically applauded her dance.

“I think we just put a little life in our lives,” she said.