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Have the Best Summer of Your Life

Posted on01 Jun 2016
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It’s nearly summer, and for most of you, that means no more homework, exams, classes or teachers! Summer means freedom, fun and friends, but it is also a great time to grow personally and to continue making an impact in your community. Follow these tips to make this summer your best one yet! Reclaim Your Joy Many young people I meet have passions that are put on the back burner during the busy school year. Summer is a great time to reclaim that joy. Do the things you love while you are free to pursue them. Read for fun. Explore nature. Start playing guitar again. Take a photography class. Volunteer! Whatever you connect to, embrace it for these few precious months. Unplug and Engage Put your phone away each day to really spend time connecting with your friends and family. Forget Facebook for a week, ignore Instagram and save your Snapchats for later....
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FUNdraising for Your School Assembly or Event

Posted on03 May 2016
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If you’re here, you’re probably looking for a speaker to do an awesome prevention program at your school (Thanks for visiting! I’d love to come see you!). That also means that you’re probably figuring out the best way to fund your prevention program. I love working with so many proactive students, teachers, parents and administrators who are determined to raise money for a good cause, but many of them don’t know where to begin. If the thought of hosting another car wash or bake sale bores you, try one of these FUNdraising ideas to raise cash and support your cause! Community Clean Up I love this idea because it really makes a difference in your town while helping you raise money for your school assembly or cause. Set a date, get trash bags and gloves donated, pick an area of your community that needs cleaning up, and collect pledges for hours worked or...
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Things Are Gonna Get Better – with Pop Tarts

Posted on01 Jun 2015
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One of my favorite parts about speaking at schools around the country is talking with students afterwards. I get lots of hugs, inspiration and encouragement from them, and it gives them an opportunity to share their stories with me after I’ve shared mine. A few weeks ago, a girl approached me after a presentation and asked a question that took my breath away. She said “How do you stay so positive when such tragedy hits you?” Then she added, “I just don’t want to be here anymore.” Unfortunately, I get asked that question more frequently than I should from students. As many as 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they become adults, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24 (car crashes are first). “Things Are Gonna Get Better” When my twin sister, Marin, was killed in a car crash the...
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Hosting a Safe Driving Event

Over the last 20 years, I have spoken to millions of students in schools across the country. At every one of those schools and at each presentation, I meet young people who are incredibly inspiring, motivating and creative. These are students who are working hard to make their communities better places and our world a safer one – and I am constantly amazed by the new and creative ways they do it! The students at Hamlin High School in South Dakota recently put on a safe driving event that I wanted to share with all of you. The sheriff’s department “ticketed” students for doing the right thing when driving, like wearing their seatbelts, parking safely and going the speed limit. They later could trade in their “good driving tickets” for a soda pop. Many Hamlin students also participated in an activity with the local sherrif’s department. They wore “drunk goggles” – designed to...
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Post-Valentine’s Day Love

Valentine’s Day was last week, which means that this week I am left wondering why on earth I had to buy so many discounted boxes of chocolates (80% off in the post-holiday sale!!) and how in the world my yoga pants seem to have shrunk two sizes since then. I’m also left thinking about love, that wonderful, confusing, exciting, terrifying, enlightening, magical thing. Valentine’s Day is a whole 24 hours devoted to it, but shouldn’t we celebrate it every day? I’m not saying that stores should always be covered in hot pink hearts and creepy Cupid cut-outs, or that candy hearts should always my go-to snack. I just think that love is something we should celebrate, embrace and encourage every day. You don’t need a glitter-covered Valentine’s card to show love. Try these seven suggestions instead – they work year-round! 1. Give a genuine compliment. While it’s nice to hear “great hair!” or...
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What’s Your “Love Language?”

When we are young, we naturally learn the language our parents speak. If you travel later, you become exposed to all kinds of different languages, and suddenly communication becomes more difficult. If you are in France, and you don’t know the difference between bonjour and au revoir, communicating your thoughts and feelings is going to be difficult, no matter how you try. You just don’t speak the right language. People have their own emotional languages, too. In his book “The Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman outlines the different ways people express and experience love. Although he takes a romantic approach to the subject, the same languages can be applied to any relationship, including the ones you have with your friends and family. Once you understand the language you use and the ones your loved ones identify with the most, you can communicate better and strengthen your relationships. Check out this run-down of the...
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New Year’s Resolutions I Can Keep

It is the beginning of a new year, which means that everyone is making resolutions. Some of them are really great, too – people are resolving to shed some pounds, eat more veggies, read more, learn Mandarin… Like I said, these are great resolutions, but they all seem to take so much work. I mean, learning Mandarin takes hours and months and years of studying, and losing weight is a daily commitment to going to the gym and eating well. They may sound awesome in January, but what about in March, when the excitement of the new year is long gone and motivation wanes? When I set goals, I want to achieve them, so this year, instead of making resolutions that might be abandoned by February, I’m going to set some goals I know I can reach: I vow to work hard to continue to grow both professionally and personally, but I also...
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A Letter To My Younger Self

Posted on30 Dec 2014
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Dear younger me, I know you are in one of those life stages when you think you know everything and don’t have to listen to anyone, but you don’t know everything and you have to listen to me because, well, I’m you… You know those things that keep you up late worrying? They all turn out to be just fine. Some don’t end up with way you thought, but everything turns out better than you feared. Stop worrying and get some sleep (older you thanks you for that!). I know you feel like a terribly awkward mess somedays, but here’s a secret: so do most people your age. Stop trying to hide your loud laugh – it is joyful and you should laugh more often. Settle into yourself. In addition to this advice, there is something else you should listen to – your gut. Listen to it, trust it, cherish it. It’s the...
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