By Bobinec, Greg on January 22, 2020.
Two guest speakers took students at Wilson Middle School by surprise Tuesday morning, as they guided them through learning about themselves and discovering how to overcome life’s challenges.
Bob Kittell, an international keynote speaker, author, TEDx speaker and memory and connection expert, was brought to Lethbridge by Janie DeNovo, an author, brain science researcher, public speaker and coach, to help Wilson students work through their personal and educational issues and challenges.
“Today we hope to inspire the students. My friend, Bob Kittell, is an inspirational motivational speaker from Utah. He speaks with universities and schools all over the world, and Bob has a special place in his hearts, as do I, for kids who are struggling against the odds,” says DeNovo. “When we heard about Wilson, I asked him to come here and inspire these kids because they are full of gifts, all sorts of characteristics and personality traits, and quality, that someone like Bob could really help bring out.”
Middle school students are seen as a good age group to start presenting these ideas, according to DeNovo, because of their recent journey to discovering who they are, and as they start to witness and understand the world around them.
“These kids are at an age that they are having identity issues, and no matter how many advantages you have in life, these years can be very difficult years and we wanted the kids here to know that they matter and to let them know that we are here for them, too,” says DeNovo. “One of the things that I like to teach kids is that they haven’t even begun to discover who they are yet, and that takes awhile for anybody. If anybody tells you that you have to believe before you can be successful, don’t believe them because often the things that we find that we are best at and what our gifts are in life, don’t come along right away, and they are the things that we never expect.”
Kittell covered a number of topics with students to inspire and empower them to achieve all they can and to be the best they can be, including memory, identifying irrational thoughts that cause stress, success is on the other side of failure, the long-term impact of bullying, tools to make them feel happier, and knowing how to pause when anger builds instead of blowing up.
“Twelve years ago I was asked to speak to my first middle school and I wondered about the things that I wish I would have known when I was their age, and I put something together and presented it and the school called me to come back the next year,” says Kittell. “When I got the feedback from what the kids were hearing and what they were learning, they are getting it. Not every kid is getting every single thing but they are learning stuff from my presentations.”
Kittell has learned from various presentations with middle school students that his talks resonate with the students, as they are just peeking into the world of experiences. Throughout his time, Kittell says the best thing that comes from the presentations is the ability to help children who are in a crisis, and sometimes are too scared to ask for help.
“Usually at a school and even today, we are finding kids who are in crisis,” says Kittell. “One of the kids I asked if they ever think of hurting themselves and they said, yes. I asked if they have a plan, and they said, not yet, but they think about things, so that student went straight to counselling. One of the kids in Iowa, I asked the same questions and both answers were yes, with a plan, and I walked him right over to the principal and he ended up going to the hospital because he was in danger, so if you save one kid, it is worth going and that is why I will go anywhere if they think I am needed.”
Students lined up after the presentation to pick the minds of Kittell and DeNovo, and share their experiences, to receive some feedback on how to mend an issue, or help them through it, as thoughts and ideas from their presentations began to resonate.
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