Motivating with laughter

Parents and students alike enjoy stepping out of their comfort zones

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  • Keith Hawkins

SPARTA Most students, parents and teachers probably expected something kind of cheesy last week when they filed into an assembly featuring an motivational speaker. Student Assistance Coordinator Kacey Konwiser promised it would be something different.

The speaker, Keith Hawkins, has reached out to over 400,000 audiences worldwide. Hawkins represents Real Inspiration Incorporated. the aim is to reinforce the importance of relationships, empowerment, attitude, and leadership.

Captivating a teenage audience is no easy feat, but Hawkins did so effortlessly by incorporating his humor with underlying motivational principles.

These students did not necessarily want to hear, "Be positive!" simply because it's been said before.

According to Hawkins, B-positive is nothing but a blood type. And with that introduction, the audience hung onto every word.

He seeks to revolutionize the structure of family and friendships and did not waste any time in lifting people out of their comfort zones. Hawkins got adults to play Simon Says. He convinced high school students to give each other back massages. He used a friendly competition of human Tic-Tac-Toe among spouses to demonstrate the effect of societal pressures on teenagers.

Sparta High School librarian Donna Earl was among the twelve people chosen for the demonstration and was thrilled with the result of the overall presentation. "It really struck me, how he said our kids focus on how we behave, not on what we tell them," she said. "They are what we are."

Many parents said they wished more adults had the opportunity to come. "It was an inconvenience after a long day, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything."

Mother of two, Kimberly Kulik, loved that he personalized his messages by sharing his own experiences. "He exposed vulnerability that, as parents, we can relate to. He's struggling with the same things we are."

Most students thoroughly enjoyed sharing awkward puberty stories or quirky stage tricks. However, junior Maya Drummond raised a few concerns. "He spent too much energy trying to make us laugh, like the massage circles, and he spent less time talking about motivational type things." Several students agreed.

At the very least, Keith Hawkins brought the community a step closer to feeling like a family.

Keith Hawkins and Kacey Konwiser are planning more events to include the next batch of students.

For more information about other Real Inspiration Incorporated programs and goals, visit

"It feels good to learn that you're not the only one facing these problems in high school. It's an unfortunate consolation to learn others are suffering too."

Junior Ollie Fishstein, discussing Hawkins's messages during lacrosse practice that evening.

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