“What would happen if we told kids the truth?”
Motivational speaker and author, Ron Glodoski posed the question to Grade 6-12 students, staff and parents on Tuesday, during his presentation describing youth resiliency and the power of choice.
Glodoski challenged students to believe in the value of their own lives and the importance of respecting themselves and others by speaking about personal experiences and societal pressures.
“You think alcohol companies care about you kids? You think tobacco companies care? You think your local drug dealer cares? I’m sick of the flippin’ lies. You have to be careful out there. Most of what you see on TV is lies,” Glodoski told the students.
The former drug lord and gang leader went on to describe a life of abuse, alcohol/drug dependency, crime and ultimate change. After years of delinquency, Glodoski turned his life around, becoming the former president of The Spinoza Company which markets a talking teddy bear that plays recordings about self-worth and acceptance.
“I’m a gang banger to a drug king to a teddy bear maker- and I’ll tell you what- I am more proud of that than anything I’ve done in my lifetime,” he said.
The Spinoza Company began 20 years ago with a two-person staff and has since grown to a staff of more than 35, with sales over $2 million per year.
“People can change any time they want. It’s a matter of choice,” Glodoski told the students. “I don’t care how old or young you are- if you want to change you can change.”
Glodoski kept students captivated through his humorous and animated presentation, but reached the youth through truths told about peer pressures and the power of choice.
“You always have a choice,” said Glodoski, who will soon mark his 28th year being drug free. “The biggest reason I come to a school like this, is I want to challenge your belief system of who you think you are.”
The average teenager makes between 2,000 and 3,000 choices per day, and Glodoski said its crucial to make the right decisions when it comes to behaviour and attitude.
The presentation included choices related to the intolerance of physical, verbal and sexual abuse; bullying; and drug and alcohol abuse. An underlying message of self-worth and self-respect highlighted the presentation.
“Have you ever noticed how many kids walk around thinking they’re better than everyone else? Have you ever noticed how many kids walk around thinking they’re less than other kids? I have never met a human being that was better than or less than another human being,” said Glodoski. “I don’t care what the colour of your skin is. I don’t care how rich or poor you are. I don’t care what religion you are. We’re all the same. Aren’t we?”
Glodoski stressed the importance of having hopes, dreams and goals for the future. Throughout the presentation Glodoski spoke about the value of hope and discussed the three “dream killers” for youth: drugs and alcohol; hanging out with negative people and kids that stop believing in themselves.
“If you remember your hopes and dreams, and keep them alive, they will happen,” Glodoski told the students. “Without hope what do you got? Nothing man. You got nothing.”