Speech may be eye-openerBELFIELD — When the 125 students of Belfield School were asked if they knew anyone who cuts themselves or self-mutilates, many raised their hands.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
BELFIELD — When the 125 students of Belfield School were asked if they knew anyone who cuts themselves or self-mutilates, many raised their hands.
And though serious topics like self-mutilation came up, humor also helped connect students to a motivational speaker Thursday.
Andre Anderson of R5 Productions spoke to high school and junior high students on a variety of topics, including bullying, drugs and alcohol, abuse and self-mutilation. He reflected on his own experiences to get his points across.
Paulette Dorval, coordinator for the Belfield Family Career and Community Leaders of America, the group that sponsored the event, believes the message given is a good one: To care about others.
Anderson said he’s been speaking at high schools for about nine years. He said in his experience, drug and alcohol use, along with self-mutilation are often ways to self-medicate and to hide deeper issues.
Anderson also talked about abuse. He said he was regularly abused by his stepfather causing him not to care about anything and to “give up on life.”
The first time he thought about committing suicide: The third grade. Bullies at school made him feel worse.
“I felt no love, I felt like I didn’t matter and I completely gave up on life,” Anderson said. “I had all these kids at school poking at me and making fun of me.
“I hated the fact that I had to go home to hell, then go to school and try and fit in, try to act like everyone else and seem normal when I’ve got people just poking at me and messing with me.”
A teacher in high school along with a few kind fellow students helped turn his life around, prompting him to become a motivational speaker and reaching out to students.
Brooke Tooley, who attended the speech, said she felt the message was positive.
“He told really good stories,” Tooley said. “I enjoyed how he talked about how to care about people and to put yourself out there and not judge people.”
In closing, Anderson gave an assignment to the students.
“A bunch of you have probably said some hurtful stuff to people in this room,” Anderson said. “If you said you would care, let’s start by caring about the people we messed up. By the end of the day, let’s go and apologize to someone.
“Bottom line: Let’s go after our dreams, live a great life and treat the people around us with respect, let’s do what we do and make this school a better place.”