Speaking her mind

Courtesy photo: Brookings student Jaixai Reineke is shown with North Dakota Gov.Doug Burgum, right, and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.

Brookings youth thrives at public speaking, gets invite to N.D. event

BROOKINGS – According to Forbes Magazine, roughly 90% of the American population is afraid to speak publicly. A Rhode Island native and Brookings local, 14-year-old Jaixai Reineke, is most certainly not part of that 90%.

On Oct. 30, Reineke was a keynote and breakout session speaker at the Main Street North Dakota Summit in Bismarck, at the request of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. 

The Summit is a three-day event dedicated to “improving the quality of life” for North Dakotans by inviting several different speakers of varying backgrounds to discuss about how communities can grow and become better.

Burgum saw Reineke’s TEDx Brookings talk that she gave two years ago (when she was only 12) and asked her to speak at the event.

“I wanted youth voices to be shown and I wanted youth voices to be out there to listen. So, I started this TEDx event called TEDx Pioneer Park Kids, and that was kind of the foundation of it all,” Reineke said.

Reineke spoke about the importance and value of youth perspective and opinions at the Summit. She spoke to a crowd of about 1,300 people.

“Well, we all have different perspectives – whether that be adult versus adult, youth versus adult or youth versus youth – we all have different ideas because we’re all different people; and I think that we have so many government leaders – who, obviously, are older adults – who don’t really see a kid’s perspective,” Reineke said.

She said that with the new generation, there’s unfettered access to information that older generations did not have when they were growing up. That means kids today have a wildly different understanding of the world than current adults had and grew into having. That’s valuable, Reineke said.

“I think it’s important to see it from a kid’s perspective and let the kids speak instead of the adults speaking for the kid(s),” she said.

Reineke has grown up with the understanding that speaking one’s mind has value and discussing ideas with friends and family and other youth offers a great deal of insight and potential for growth.

The high school freshman has many future plans involving public speaking. After her presentation in North Dakota, she was asked to speak at a high school at a reservation in North Dakota. She also aims to start a youth city council here in Brookings in 2020. Eventually, she said, she’d like to pursue a career in law, or at least “something with public speaking.”

For more information, visit https://www.nd.gov/living-nd/main-street-nd/take-action/main-street-summit/about-main-street-nd-summit, and to watch her TEDx Brookings talk, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfItT6aHIJI.

Contact Matthew Rhodes at [email protected]


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