HURLEYVILLE, NY — As I stood in the ballroom of the Hurleyville Arts Center on January 13, I witnessed juniors and seniors from all over the county enter the space with their curious eyes and …
HURLEYVILLE, NY — As I stood in the ballroom of the Hurleyville Arts Center on January 13, I witnessed juniors and seniors from all over the county enter the space with their curious eyes and eager hearts. I could see some with uncertainty in their eyes too. Some with excitement. And some that might have just been there to attain community service hours.
One thing was certain. No one who left that ballroom was the same person who entered.
“This second [annual] summit not only featured guided discussions on the themes of the MLK speech, ‘Blueprint for Life,’ but this year, we were really able to cover themes of resilience, grit and perseverance, thanks to our keynote speaker,” said Amanda Langseder, managing director for Sullivan 180.
To help inspire the students, Sullivan 180 invited a keynote speaker, Duncan Kirkwood, to kick off the summit. Originally from Buffalo, Duncan faced many challenges growing up. And he uses those challenges in his work as a global resilience trainer, to inspire high school and college students to gain the resilience tools and tactics they need to lead a successful life.
“I work with young people and educators to help build their resilience, their mental toughness, mental agility so they can be the best versions of themselves.” Kirkwood said as he was getting ready to take the stage, where his comical and charismatic energy set the tone for the day.
Kirkwood’s book, “Rerouting: Resilience Tools and Tactics,” which every student got a copy of, likens his teachings to a GPS.
“When you put a route in your GPS and you make a wrong turn, the GPS doesn’t break down. It doesn’t start crying. It doesn’t get on TikTok live. It just says rerouting. And as long as you’re willing to move forward, it will chart you to your goal,” Kirkwood said.
He shared experiences of his own life, from rejections he had from colleges, to his political losses. And said that those challenges compelled him. Even though at the time he was devastated by these losses, they helped him to keep moving forward. He discovered that if it weren’t for these setbacks, he wouldn’t be getting paid to travel all over the world, be a successful author of a best-selling book, and most importantly, truly love what he’s doing.
The students seemed to be inspired and got some good laughs. All while they gained the resources they need to persevere as they get ready to leave high school and go beyond.
Langseder concluded, “His words really hit home for many students in the room that may have been feeling overwhelmed by hardship or crisis.”
For more information on Sullivan 180 and all the programs it offers, visit www.sullivan180.org or call them at 845/296-2680.
For more information on Duncan Kirkwood, or to get a copy of his book, visit www.duncankirkwood.com.
You can learn more about MLK’s “Blueprint for Life” by watching his speech at bit.ly/3XvRo5F.
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