For the modern teen, it can feel impossible to beat the odds in the social network where it is easy to believe stuff that is not true, and focus on things that don’t really matter. Many youth struggle with feeling small and insignificant no matter how “connected” they are in their cyber-powered peer communities. Some examples include:
- I am nobody unless I have a profile on Instagram or SnapChat (or the social media app of the day)
- The number of “likes” to my posts and followers in my network validates me.
- In order to express affection for a love interest, I must send an explicit photo of myself.
- I need drugs and alcohol in order to cope with my pain of feeling worthless and isolated.
- My parents can never understand what I am going through, and if they knew, they would not accept me and I will not survive their judgment.
Bob Holmes is a one-man volley ball team who travels the country engaging teens to think radically differently about their value and their future in the face of enormous bullying pressure in their social networks to believe they are small and insignificant. He performs for student body assemblies during the day as a one-man volley ball team against teams of teens (and he wins). Youth and parents are invited to a rally later in the evening with more positive messages and stories to inspire teens to think about their own power as individuals to overcome painful experiences with victory mindsets. “Once the teens realize that this is about watching me play against their peers and showing them while I am playing them how to be the change they want to feel, it becomes something real and fun, and they are eager to experience the message of hope,” Holmes said. “I show them how to ‘beat the odds’.”
The challenge for teens today is to realize that their experiences, no matter how isolating and painful, are a part of the human condition. Sandy Hancock is the Director of Sales for Gatekeeper Innovations in Sacramento, a manufacturer of prescription bottles with a combination lock to prevent abuse of pain killers by toddlers and teens. “At Gatekeeper Innovations we want to encourage teens to realize that they can always choose hope,” she said. “We partner with programs like Beat the Odds, because educating youth about their potential, which is not tied to circumstances, is a critical facet of prevention.” According to Hancock, it is a demonstration that really hits home. “It is truly transformative to witness Bob perform with youth and their response to his message,” she said.
Beat the Odds is scheduling events in February and March next year in the Sacramento region. School officials who are interested in learning more and scheduling an assembly event and after school rally, please contact: Sandy Hancock, firstname.lastname@example.org.