Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of speaking the Wisconsin Association of Student Councils (WASC) leadership conference. The goal of my presentations to the middle and high school students as well as their advisors was to talk about not just being a leader, but being an upstanding leader. As a youth speaker, speaking on this issue is one of the topics I am most passionate about. I talked about the importance of not being a leader in name only who is just a bystander, but an upstanding leader who remembers to truly serve others. Speaking to these incredible students showed me that there was not much convincing that I had to do keep them motivated on this topic.
The WASC students came into the conference already motivated and excited to take themselves to the next level as leaders as well as individuals. Their dedication to improving their leadership skills for the betterment of their school and community was truly inspiring. I wish that they could livestream their entire 2-day conference so that America could see the positivity that exudes from our youth. Most of what we see of youth on television is overwhelmingly negative. If we as adults could be fed a daily dose of what youth like the WASC students are doing, we would be as optimistic about the future of this country as I am. Simply put, WASC students rock!
I encourage you today to intentionally look for something positive in the youth around you or in your community in general. It is too easy to be pessimistic about the future of our youth. If you look for negativity on the news from flashmob robbings to school shootings, you will find it. On the flip side, if you look for youth serving their communities by volunteering to help the homeless, tutoring after school, or helping to keep their community clean and safe, you will find that too. If you believe it and seek it, you will find it. Don’t stereotype our youth. They deserve better. They deserve our best. I am fortunate in my career to get to see them give their best everyday. I thank the WASC students for giving me that opportunity this past weekend.