If students of Chelan Middle and High Schools seemed more motivated and respectful of others on St. Patrick’s Day, it may because of Mike Smith. The public speaker and founder of The Bay, one of the few non-profit skateboard parks in America, visited Chelan schools to share his story with students.
“The thing that meant the most to me when I was a kid was my skateboard,” Smith told students who filled the Chelan High School Gym. Smith continued to explain that while growing up in a small town in Nebraska, he found himself focusing on himself instead of others.
“I got super mean, I got super arrogant, and I basically treated everybody in my school like I was better than them,” Smith said, as he recounted of his life as a four-sport, high school varsity sophomore. “I truly believed that because I was the star athlete in a small town that I was better than everyone else. When you think that way about yourself, you find yourself getting into trouble.”
It was while serving in school suspension that he was challenged by his football coach to write an essay describing what he hoped to do in ten years. His answer was simple, he wanted to own a skate park.
As Smith grew as an individual, he began to focus on others through the guidance of educators and his parents. A desire to instill pride in his father, who has battled cancer four times, drove Smith to be about something “bigger”.
“You don’t get the perfect grades to get the perfect college to get the perfect job to have the perfect life and then you can make a difference in this world,” Smith stated. “Change has everything to do with what kind of character you have and what kind of person you are.”
Smith’s story had students laughing, crying and possibly growing as individuals. The honest representation of the hurdles one faces within oneself while fighting to be a ‘good’ person was relatable for the students and teachers whose attention was focused throughout the one-hour presentation.
Today, Smith is working on a new television show with celebrity athlete Rob Dyrdek and is planning a coast to coast skateboarding trip. “I want my Wikipedia bio to say ‘he was the Forrest Gump of skateboarding,’” Smith said resulting in laughter from the audience. Smith also offers consulting services, acts as an ambassador and heads up multiple non-profits.
Smith is available for speaking engagements through his website http://mikesmithlive.com/. Mike Smith Live can be booked for businesses as well as schools.
“Are you the wish kid, are you the talk kid, or do you have what it actually takes to step up and do? Make it about somebody else because that’s where change lives,” Smith said as he challenged students and wrapped up the event.
(By Jillian Foster)