(This article is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com).
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 demonstrating 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 hear the message of hope,” Holmes said. “I show them how to ‘beat the odds’.”
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
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 Innovation in Sacramento, a manufacturer of prescription bottles with a combination lock to prevent abuse of pain killers by toddlers and teens. “At Gatekeeper Innovation 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, email@example.com.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. Trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, she is a mother of two grown sons, an author of books on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture, and produces the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com.