I love experiencing things for the first time. This past week, I had two of those: it was the first time presenting for the PLUS ME project to a group of 5th graders and it was the first time presenting for the PLUS ME project in another state.
My schedule looked like this:
Wednesday - Crown Prep Academy - Los Angeles - 200 (5th/6th) students
Friday - Centennial Middle School - Phoenix - 700 (7th/8th) students
I remember feeling extremely anxious about both opportunities and I had that little voice in the back of my head feeding me negative self-talk.
"What if the 5th graders can't relate to your story?"
"What if students in Arizona don't connect to your Los Angeles life?"
I did not have the answer to these questions and for all I knew maybe they would not. But what I did know, was that I had these two amazing opportunities before me and I was going to make them happen.
The 5th graders were adorable scholars that laughed at all my punch lines and the students in Arizona roared with applause the moment I introduced myself as "Richard from Los Angeles." (So much for that negative self-talk.)
The feedback from the educators was overwhelmingly positive and the support from the students has been phenomenal on our social media outlets.
After the presentation, one student posted something on Instagram with her #CentennialPLUSME hashtag. Her post said, "Never give up. Everyone has bad days. Pick yourself up and KEEP GOING."
It brings me so much joy knowing this is the lesson she took from the presentation and it is posts like these that remind myself to keep doing what I'm doing. No matter what age and no matter where the students live, powerful personal narratives can inspire anyone.
I hope that if you get to experience a first in the near future, you push aside all your negative self-talk and make it happen!
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Today I visited South El Monte HS and shared my personal narrative with 54 of their AVID freshmen. I did this in part of Guest Speakers PLUS ME, which is a program within the non-profit organization I created, the PLUS ME project.
I have shared my narrative over 200 times to over 20,000 students over the past 4 years. It all started out as a crazy plan I created when I was bored one day while in college. Today, it's the foundation of our organization.
Over the years, I've inspired and motivated thousands of students with a very similar story and I can honestly say, it never gets old.
During our Guest Speakers PLUS ME events, every student that we speak to fills out a pre-survey before the presentation. This survey asks them to rate themselves on how motivated they feel in school, how much effort they feel they are putting into their school work, and how confident they feel about reaching their goals in the future.
At the end of the presentation, they fill out the post-survey which focuses on the same three questions as well as what they took from the presentation and if they would recommend it.
I always find it extremely fascinating how great of an impact a powerful narrative can have on the youth. Just take a look for yourself! The photo on the left shows the results from the pre-survey and the right shows their post-survey results.
I am a very visual person, so when I see graphs like this - they speak to me. I know that what we are doing is fantastic and I know that what we are doing is working.
But every now and then, something else other than these graphs profoundly impacts me. Today, as I read through the comments that the students left on their surveys, I stumbled upon this:
What's one thing you learned? "If I want it, if I really want it, I can do it."
I had a stack of 54 surveys filled with fantastic positive learnings. Any of them could have stood out, but for whatever reason this is the one that did today.
I hope you realize that when you want something, you realize that you don't just want it...you really want it and you will do anything and everything to get it.
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