All individuals have the ability to change the world through their choices and voices independent of age, according to motivational speaker Mike Hall during his presentations at several local schools thanks to the Yadkin Valley ABC Board.
After speaking to middle and high school students at Elkin City Schools on Wednesday, Hall slipped in an extra school on Thursday between presentations at Starmount.
“He and I talked yesterday and he wanted to come to the Yadkin Success Academy, which is our alternative school in Yadkin County,” said Yadkin County Safe Schools Coordinator Rick Swaim. “I talked to Cory Vestal at the ABC Store there in Elkin and he said he was a great speaker. I told the superintendent about it and said this was a good idea for our kids and he jumped on it, too. We’re glad to have him.”
“Other boards have used him for schools in their districts,” said Robin Turner of the ABC Board. “It was Cory’s idea [to have Hall come speak] from going to ABC manager meetings.”
Turner explained that the ABC Board provides a portion of its funds to local schools to help with programs that educate youth on the dangers of substance abuse and similar issues.
“Wilson County ABC Board has brought him into their school several times and they spoke very highly of him,” said Vestal, “so I got to doing some research and he seemed appropriate. He was by far the best that I saw.”
“The kids, especially the middle-schoolers, were very vocal about it; they loved him,” said Turner, “and he changed both programs so I thought he was very age-appropriate for the two different groups.”
That message contained not only Hall’s own personal experiences growing up a child of the military who never stayed anywhere long enough to fit in, to anecdotes of young people whose lives have been affected by what they heard from Hall.
“[I] spoke at an early college [at a] town about an hour east outside of Charlotte and a 17-year-old girl wrote to me afterwards,” said Hall. The girl described her life in the letter including the fact that she had attempted suicide several times.
“She was walking to school that day thinking it was time to try again she said, ‘And then you showed up and everything is different now.’ She said, ‘I left that assembly feeling like a superhero, which I never feel like and everything changed. I feel like I’m on top of the world.’”
The girl’s message impacted Hall so much he checked in with her again three months later. The girl had not only stopped cutting herself, but had run for Student Council president and won.
“From suicidal to student council president in three months as a result of a caring adult showing up in her life,” marveled Hall, who also inspired students closer to home.
“We’ve had motivational speakers before and they’ve always sort of talked down to us and told us what to do, but with him it was kind of like he gets it,” said Elkin senior Ryan Russell.
“I see other people struggle sometimes and I hope to pick them up, but I get what he saying when he says, ‘welcome to my world,’” said Russell, referring to Hall’s revelation that many of the people who seem to have a great life are often hiding a horrible secret.
“I think it puts perspective to some people that don’t know that people tend to hide their lives at home when they’re at school,” said fellow Elkin senior A.J. Brown, “they try to make everything seem better than it is.
“This was probably the best assembly we’ve had.”
“It was very motivational message for the kids,” said Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle, who hopes Hall’s presentation will make a difference in the daily lives of all the students, “but if it can just impact one person, then that is what makes it worthwhile.
“You have one person that may be have been bullied or may have been feeling down about themselves,” continued Hoyle, “if it helps to bring them up or if just a couple of folks happen to look at life different, then that’s well worth it.”
Hall appealed to everyone in the auditorium, including adults, as he adjusted his program to accommodate his different audiences.
“He was more physically funny with the middle-schoolers so it really reached their age,” said Turner, describing the message as the same, “but he went deeper with the high-schoolers.”
In Hall’s message, he reminded everyone that they needed to make the choices that were appropriate for their personal goals instead of just talking about them as well as the importance of setting the right kinds of goals.
“Don’t tell me what you want to be when you grow up. I don’t care,” said Hall.
“You can be a garbage man, a plumber, a lawyer, a doctor. I don’t care. Here’s what I want to know — What kind of person do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of a person are you going to be when you walk out of this room? It’s up to you.”
More information about Mike Hall and his message can be found at mikeisspeaking.com.
“I’m sure we will do something like this again,” said Turner. “It will kind of depend on funding.”
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.