SAN MIGUEL COUNTY – “It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly,” said American author Isaac Asimov.
That’s the philosophy underpinning the decision of the Norwood Youth Organization, a group of caring and committed parents, to bring motivational speaker Aaron Davis from Lincoln, Neb. to Norwood High School, on Monday, July 2, at 6:30 p.m.
Davis will discuss making positive choices, and moving forward when faced with adversity, with in his speech titled Attitude of a Champion: Making Positive Choices. The event is free and open to all.
Davis’s message is relevant to adolescents, say organizers, who contacted him in the aftermath of community fallout from an alleged Feb. 16 attack on a Norwood Middle School student by three older students in a bus parked outside the Colorado State Wrestling Tournament. The Denver District Attorney’s Office filed charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment against three alleged attackers, three months later.
According to Norwood parent and baseball coach, Ken Watt, the Feb. 16 incident and its aftermath has torn the community apart, and no-one really knows how to address it.
“We need to get these kids walking tall again,” he said, of the community-wide turmoil that accompanied the incident, the allegations and the filing of criminal charges. “The kids have fallen hard; I’m not sure they see how far they’ve fallen.”
Youth Organization member Ramona Rummel suggested that the students need tools to use in figuring out how to come to terms with the incident, learn from it and move forward in a positive direction.
“After a tragedy, usually kids are offered grief counselors,” Rummel said. In the wake of the Feb. 16 incident, however, “No help has come; these kids need help.”
Although helping the students was what sparked Davis’s upcoming speech, Watt pointed out that it’s important for all members of the community to come to the event with a willingness to listen to Davis’s message.
“We are encouraging all community members – faculty, parents, students, coaches, administrators – to attend,” Watt said. “Without their attendance and participation, the changes we are hoping for may not happen. It starts with the community, and it’s essential we get them to attend and help us get the word out.”
As they discussed how best to initiate constructive dialogue for the community, members of the group decided it was important to bring in someone from the outside who was impartial, and began talking about bringing in a motivational speaker.
Rummel had heard Davis speak at a conference two-and-a-half years ago, and remembers being moved by his presentation.
“I was very impressed with him and motivated,” Rummel said of Davis’s presentation. “Things he said two-and-a-half years ago, I still remember vividly today.”
In addition to speaking about leadership to adults in business, Davis has been speaking to students for over 12 years and speaks to over 100,000 high school and college students annually. In his presentations, he draws from his own experiences while growing up, his success as a member of the 1994 Nebraska National Championship football team, and his work today in his own consulting, software and other business ventures.
Davis believes he successfully connects with adolescents and builds rapport with student audiences because he is honest, draws on compelling stories, and uses humor.
“I’m transparent,” he said. “Teenagers can smell bull a mile away. I come at them quick, hard, and with a lot of humor. I’m transparent with my own mistakes and consequences.”
The Norwood Youth Organization has been working with Davis to help tailor his presentation to fit the needs of the students and community. Davis will be available to meet with interested students after his presentation.
According to Rummel, Davis is going to talk about responding to adversity, and will pose scenarios aimed at helping participants ascertain whether their responses help or hurt the situation.
“The message includes questions anybody – student, teacher, parent, community member – will all have to address individually,” Davis said. “The only way to move forward is for everyone to address these questions.”
“We need to reinforce to these kids that they are all champions,” Rummel added. “There is too much good potential in these kids to let this incident break them down.”
The Norwood Youth Organization is able to bring Aaron Davis to Norwood with support from the Just for Kids Foundation and other anonymous donors.