TRACES urban acrobats. Graphic by Alphachimp Studio Inc.

Kick-off day at TEDMED! Some 1,500 Delegates streamed through the massive doors of the Kennedy Center toward the Opera Stage to watch Session 1, themed “Embracing the Unconventional.”  So it was.  Legal advocate Bryan Stevenson spoke on the power of proclaiming and embracing identity, and why eliminating health inequities should be a critical part of America’s own identity.

Designer Teresa Monachino presented her own “Sicktionary,” in which she posed questions:  Does anyone really understand pill dosage labeling?  Why do anti-smoking messages focus on disease — when kids who start smoking think they’re invincible? Maybe our messages should focus on how smoking makes you ugly?

The Monachino Sicktionary. Graphic by Alphachimp Studio Inc.

Rebecca Onie, co-founder and CEO of Health Leads, spoke about the devastating impact of poverty on health, and what’s needed:  better access; earlier intervention; better food; better transportation.  All solutions, she says, that are ours for the taking. If we just ask the right questions — are you running out of food at the end of the month? Do you have safe housing? — then the doctor can then prescribe what the patient really needs.

Music and dance liberate the imagination, as TEDMED curator Jay Walker said.  To that end, singer and TEDMED musical director Jill Sobule sang “Modern Drugs,” about how life would be different for various famed artists and scientists if they had taken Prozac — imagine a cheery Edgar Allen Poe. The session closed as the WPAS Children of The Gospel Choir and Step Afrika! shook the stage and drew a standing-O with joyful music and dance.

TEDMED on the web: 

MedGadget does their classic TEDMED synopsis.

From Partner and Great Challenges program sponsor Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Tackling health care’s Great Challenges; U.S. News and World Report’s Steve Sternberg issues his own challenge to TEDMED.

HuffPost is liveblogging the event as it happens. Artist and patient advocate Regina Holliday, who’s doing a mural of each day’s highlights, titled her first day’s work as the dance of care.

The HealthWorks Collective, sponsored by Siemens, gave a great synopsis of each speaker’s talk.

Alphachimp Studio captured not only the “what” of the day but also the colorful spirit with their digital scribes.

TEDMED 2012 speaker Jonathan Eisen compiled visual notes of Bryan Stevenson‘s talk.

Chris Seper of MedCity Media wrote on “What you need to know about TEDMED.”

And Nurture’s blog looked at the Great Challenges.