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Students Learn Perseverance and Kindness Through Motivational Speaker Presentations

On Sunday, Sept. 22, Milton Hershey School welcomed well-known national youth motivational speakers Brian Williams and John “PUSH” Gaines to campus as part of the school’s annual Perseverance Through Adversity series. Through the hour-long presentations, all current students and on-duty Home Life staff were motivated and inspired.

Williams spoke to elementary students about being “Kindness Ninjas” and showing kindness to others despite the adversity they may have faced. He is the president and founder of national non-profit Think Kindness, an organization dedicated to inspiring measurable acts of kindness in schools and communities around the world.

At the same time, middle and high school students came together at Hershey Lodge to hear Gaines speak about overcoming personal and emotional challenges. The focus of Gaines’ work is to help young people “push past their pain to find their purpose and be the greatest human being they were created to be.” The former at-risk-youth-turned-advocate encouraged MHS students to have great thoughts, great actions, great habits, and great purpose.

MHS middle and high school students listen to motivational speaker John "PUSH" Gaines.

Sunday’s presentation supported learning principles from Milton Hershey School’s character and leadership development program, The Compass Project. Through this program, all students discover their values and learn the skills they need to become successful leaders and compassionate, global citizens. The Compass Project also reinforces the school’s commitment to the principle of developing the whole child and helping each student reach his or her greatest leadership potential.

The speakers’ presentations were a natural fit for what the students are currently learning through their character education lessons. Diana Davis, the curriculum supervisor for The Compass Project, shared how the two presentations tied together to reinforce September’s Compass Project teaching topic, “Overcoming Personal and Emotional Challenges.”

“The basic tie-in was this: Life is hard. We all have struggles. But the true test of our ability to overcome those challenges successfully is measured in our ability to be kind to others despite those struggles,” Davis said.

To complete the experience with its students, MHS will participate in Williams’ 15-Day Kindness Challenge in an attempt to reach 5,000 total acts of kindness performed by members of the school community. Over the next two weeks, the entire student body has been challenged to be Kindness Ninjas and carry out acts of kindness in the halls, classrooms, student homes, and throughout the community. Each student will document his or her progress in a special kindness journal, and results will be tallied at the end of the program.


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