Walk the Talk: a Pilot Program

I think it’s because most of us talk one way and live another. There are few people that truly, truly walk the talk.
–Olympia Dukakis

I organized a youth program that just kicked off last week with its first speaker. This program, Walk the Talk Speaker Series, is geared towards empowering kids in Grades 4-9 at a K-9 school to feel like there are choices; they can do the unusual and be successful; they can fight the hard fight and win; and they can love themselves through it all.

This is my fourth time creating and facilitating a youth program for this age range but this is the first time opening it up to boys. My intention was never to exclude boys, I feel there’s a great need to tap into what can help the the lost souls of that gender, but I needed to start small with something I knew and understood: girls. I am a girl. I have two daughters. I also feel there’s a resurgence of “girl power” in the media and community as well, so the timing felt right for others to support my personal thoughts that young girls need some guidance in this confusing world of glass ceilings, no means no–but what if I want to say yes?, and female backstabbing and bullying.

I have five speakers for Walk the Talk confirmed to come speak at the school roughly once every two weeks during lunch and I have to admit, I’m giddy about it. I feel proud that I was able to take a little idea and make into an event but I’m also proud that these speakers, whom I don’t know some very well, trusted me or the idea enough to say “yes.”

I sent a quick email to all the speakers with the message below included. I wanted to explain why I was doing this and what it meant to me to help them express to the kids what Walk the Talk means to them.
Here is a tidbit:
“I gave this a working title of “Walk the Talk,” which stuck. I picked the name because I hoped to find, and did, speakers who are genuine in doing what they say is important and also inspiring others with their hard work, dedication and talent. I wanted to show kids that there is success in the arts beyond school and there is a community out there for each of them that extends beyond geographical boundaries – they just have to look around a little to find their niche(s).”

After each speaker session, I hope to highlight on the new-normal site, what each speaker talked about with these kids and how they shared their wisdom and spread the love they have for what they do. I also want to share publicly my thanks to them for volunteering their time to do this.

Session 1 of Walk the Talk was led by Taylor Headon. To simplify the background of what Taylor explained to the students, I’ll include her bio below that went out to parents before the sessions started. Most parents read it but it didn’t seem like many kids had so Taylor was a complete stranger to them and she did a great job of summarizing her life, struggles and belief in herself to get through it all.

Taylor Headon is a personal trainer at Blitz Conditioning in Edmonton. She grew up in a small Albertan town of 800 people, called Kitscoty. At 17, her life changed dramatically when her older sister was killed in a car accident and her brother suffered a severe brain injury from the same accident. He did eventually make a full recovery. Taylor was left with many emotions, pushing her to be a perfectionist. After getting a college scholarship and trying out a local college for a year, then one in the State for a little while, Taylor was still sad and lonely. She hung around the wrong group of people and got into drugs before moving back home and returning to the local Lloydminster college she attended before. She finally had enough and asked for help from family and counsellors, and she began exercising every day. Someone in a boot-camp class suggested she take the NAIT personal training course because her bubbly personality was very motivating. At the time, she was overweight and scared but knew she could help people through exercise, something she had grown to love. She lost 30 pounds of extra weight over two years and landed her dream job at Blitz Conditioning.

Taylor will share her experiences and lessons learned with the Lakeland students including, surround yourself with positive people, work hard for what you want and be kind to everyone – you never know what they are going through – and to love yourself because this is the only life you have and the only body you get to live it in.

Taylor has little-to-no presentation experience and so she was honest that her nerves were giving her some extra adrenaline that day. But she had to start with the worst part of her life, her sister dying in a car accident, to get to the best, which is where she’s at today. She even got all the kids up and moving by doing some high knees, jumping jacks and squats with high 5s to a partner. This a big accomplishment considering this group was made up of various grades, genders and friend groups. But the kids, and teachers in attendance, got up and got moving because they were inspired by Taylor to get moving and laugh while doing it.
Taylor explained that today, she manages her stress, anxiety and depression with exercise. She works out on her own time but also takes clients through workouts as well to have their lifestyles change for the better. She walks the talk.
Taylor embodies everything I was looking for in a speaker for this series. She works hard to achieve her goals, is honest about her struggles, and is not afraid to build other people up and bring a community along with her towards success.
Thank you so much Taylor.

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