Youth Motivational Speaker and Teen Mental Health Speaker Plants Seeds at Bucks County Technical High School.
November 12, 2019 – The seniors are arriving into the auditorium. It’s 9 a.m. and I’m back. This auditorium is familiar. I’ve been coming to this school for more than 10 years.
Kevin Gentilcore, Director of Pupil Services is my point of contact. BCTHS was once another client but seeing Mr. Gentilcore annually has become inspirational and what I look forward to now. He’s like my coach – my mentor. I love this man.
I’m out in the hallway watching the seniors come in. I hear words like, “This assembly better not be a waste of time,” which is typical from seniors with fixed mindsets. Nonetheless, I always get inspired when I hear these words from high school students.
In the hallway awaiting the seniors to arrive for the high school motivational assembly…
As a youth motivational speaker, my job is to plant seeds. I’ve learned in 28 years that planting seeds is really all I do. It’s all I have control over.
The younger, egotistical Jeff Yalden used to think he was changing the world. I’m not. I’m planting seeds. It’s more fun thinking this way too.
At 48, you’d think I was too old and can’t relate to young people anymore. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I relate more now than ever before. I’m more present and having more fun. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I don’t need validation anymore. I care more about the teachable moment.
The seniors take their seats. Mr. Gentilcore is sitting in the back. He knows me, no introduction needed. The students don’t care about introductions. If they want to know me, they can google Jeff Yalden or find me on social media @Jeff Yalden.
Youth Motivational Speaker Needs No Introduction
Introductions make me anxious. This isn’t about me. It’s about the students in front of me.
“Let’s go!”, I think to myself. I’m ready to speak and plant seeds. I’m excited.
From the moment I start, I calculate that roughly 90 percent of the students are giving me their undivided attention. The outlying 10 percent take a minute but quickly become glued and focused.
As I am speaking and I have the attention of 350 seniors, I’m feeling seeds being planted. Words are being heard. I’m getting comfortable in front of my audience. Yes, after 28 years as a youth motivational and teen mental health speaker, I still get nervous speaking in high school assemblies.
An hour and a half later the high school assembly is over.
As the seniors exit the auditorium, I’m standing outside in the hallway in case any student wants to shake my hand and say, “Thank you!” or wants to thank me for my service as a Marine.
Students line up one by one thanking me and telling me how much my words meant to them. With each hand I shake I’m very careful to look each senior or staff member in the eyes, acknowledging that I’m appreciative that they listened. I never want a student or anybody else to walk away thinking, “Jeff Yalden doesn’t care about me.” I’m present and try hard to make sure every handshake includes eye contact, and I say, “Thank you for listening.”
They listened (growth mindset). I did what I love. I spoke to high school students in a student high school assembly. I planted seeds. I love this. It’s what I do, but they chose to listen.
Students Want To talk
It always happens that a few students want to talk privately.
Today, it was five seniors who weren’t expecting to have their emotions moved or shaken. That’s good. A lot of seniors walked out, shaking my hand saying, “Dude, you made me think today!” Good.
Two young ladies I talked to dealing with some heavy stuff. Emotions, thoughts, feelings, their future – lonely, disappointed and dealing with burdensome thoughts. These are typical conversations I have with teens.
Two Things I believe about Teens and their Upbringing
- Don’t put teens in positions where they have no control.
- Don’t ask teens to have to make adult decisions or to assume adult responsibilities.
I spend about 30 minutes addressing these issues before turning them over to Mr. Gentilcore, knowing he will do the right thing and bring this to the attention of the school counselor.
I am proud of these seniors for sharing. You can’t keep it in forever. It’s okay to talk and what I do is give them permission to address what they’re feeling in their heart. It’s part of planting the seeds I’m talking about.
I also quickly met with three boys who wanted to thank me. They told me how impactful my words were. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.
Why Teens Don’t Open Up
Teens need a trusted and significant adult in their lives, but very few actually have one in place to help guide them through life’s sometimes choppy waters. This is alarming, it’s very common today. This should be concerning to adults who have teens in their lives.
Teens don’t trust adults – even their teachers, counselors or parents. They’re afraid to talk and don’t know how. They’re afraid to be judged and they have built up walls.
Teens are also afraid that their thoughts and feelings will not be validated – and that the adults will only try to fix what they are going through, when they know deep down that they need to face these issues themselves.
What can our teachers, coaches and parents do to show the kids in their lives that they care? Be present. Be real. Share your story so they know you understand what they might be feeling or what they’re going through.
Teens Ask Two Questions
The two questions all teens need answers to are…
- Can I trust you?
- Do you care about me?
When you show up in a child’s life every day, you answer these questions whether you realize it or not – by your gestures, the way you walk and talk – by your presence and your smile. These things speak louder than words. Be mindful of the message you are sending.
So, the high school assembly at BCTHS is over. Jeff Yalden leaves the building after a hug and a THANK YOU to Mr. Kevin Gentilcore.
High School Assembly Ends
Another great visit. Another great school assembly. Another day speaking to students and PLANTING SEEDS.
Now it’s up to the seniors to do something with the seeds that were planted.
Thanks again, BCTHS. See you next year.
Who is Youth Mental Health Motivational Speaker Jeff Yalden
Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as one of the top mental health experts in the world primarily focused on education and school communities working with teens, school administration, counselors, teachers, staff, parents and community leaders.
He’s a four-time best-selling author including his latest book, TEEN SUICIDE: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic.
His Podcast: Mental Health and Motivation continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on today’s mental health conversations for teens and adults.
You can learn more about Jeff Yalden by visiting his website – www.JeffYalden.com. You can also learn more about Jeff’s Suicide Prevention Online Course for School Communities and Parents, Jeff Yalden University, and follow Jeff on YouTube and Social Media by clicking on the links below:
For more information, please visit www.JeffYalden.com or click on any link below:
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