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Top Teen Suicide Prevention Speaker Visits Vanderhoof, British Columbia

Jeff Yalden Galvanizes Nechako Valley Secondary School

By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Teen Motivational Speaker

Vanderhoof, British Columbia, is a small Canadian municipality nearly a thousand miles north of Seattle.

It was the first stop on a two-day speaking trip for North America’s top teen motivational speaker, Jeff Yalden.

“The one thing I notice that is really different about being up in Canada is the people,” he said. Canadians are real nice and instantly they become like family.”

Yalden was booked for a full day at Nechako Valley Secondary School on February 22, which included a school assembly, visits with at-risk kids and a Parent/Community program focusing on teen mental health and suicide prevention.

Nechako Valley Secondary School serves grades 7-12, boasts more than 600 students and has been in place since 1955.

Yalden said he spent a lot of time visiting with all the seventh and eighth graders in individual classrooms after meeting his contact, local government employee Debra Sewell and school principal Ken Young.

“One of the things I love about coming into a community and getting ready to speak early is that you get to speak to the principal and the people who brought you in and ask them, ‘if you were speaking to these kids, what would you want to say.’”

He also had the opportunity to meet a young lady named Ashley, 19, who is part of a Local Action Team in Vanderhoof.

“Ashley is doing great things with the local government – trying to reduce the stigma of mental health, encouraging people to step up and do and say something,” he said.

Many of the kids told Yalden that he was hilarious and the assembly was funny.

“Well, I’m not really brought in to be funny, but sometimes you’ve got to deliver the content through humor – and that was great.”

During the assembly, he stressed the importance of personal responsibility and living in the now.

“If we can’t appreciate now, then we will never be grateful for what that can be about. If life knocks you down, you get back up and strive to get back ‘in purpose,’” he said.

Yalden spoke about recent suicides in the United States, including the suicide of high school senior Quai Horton in Des Moines, Iowa.

Horton left many direct verbal clues on social media prior to making what Yalden calls the forever decision to take his own life.

“One of the things we want to teach our young people is – the right thing to do is when you know something is going on with one of your friends and to be able to say something – and to get your friend the help that they need. That’s what a good friend does,” he said.

Later, Yalden met with a small group of at-risk kids, meeting them on their level.

“At first, they didn’t want anything to do with it, but once I started using a little bit of the language that they were very used to using – that turned into just an absolutely incredible hour-long conversation.”

He was also happy with the turnout at the evening’s Parent/Community program.

“I was impressed with the enthusiastic and caring team of staff/teachers and school administration, and very, very impressed with the local mental health community that is rallying to bring all of this to their communities up here in British Columbia.”

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TAGS: British Columbia, Jeff Yalden, Teen Suicide, Vanderhoof, Nechako Valley Secondary School., Suicide Prevention, Teen Suicide Prevention, Parenting, Responsibility, Youth Motivational Speaker, Vanderhoof Local Action Team, Canada, Mental Health Awareness, Secondary School Speaker, School Assembly Speaker, Canadian Mental Health, Teen Mental Health Speaker

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