Students respond to speaker who came through Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Students respond to speaker who came through Grass Valley

Submitted to The Union

An inspirational speaker who dubs himself "The Hope Dealer" recently spoke to local high school students.

"Don't focus on the lack of opportunity or hopelessness," said Jeremy Bates, addressing a gym full of Silver Springs continuation high school students on Wednesday. "Healthy choices are based on how much hope you have."

He urged teens to reflect on their choices, including common teen addictions to video games, substances, and relationships.

"You can't be the new you if you love being the old you," he said. "Be addicted to being the best person you can be."

Bates shared his personal history of growing up in a broken family plagued with drug and alcohol addiction.

"Hopelessness is the place I came from," he said. "Eventually you need to leave influences behind and find your own path. You need to figure out what you love and you'll never be bored again."

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He encouraged students to "see the invisible to do the impossible" and not get swept up in fake realities promulgated by social media.

"Some of you hide the real you, but it's going to come out so you might as well lead with it," Bates said. "Have the courage to be you. Be authentic."

Originally slated to speak for 45 minutes, Silver Springs students agreed to postpone their breakfast so they could absorb more of Bates's advice. He ended up speaking for 90 minutes, and then held informal personal chats with students who clamored around him.

"He reminded me that there is more to life than controlling and addictive things, and that if you keep yourself motivated and working toward your life goals, you will live a happier, healthier life," said Silver Springs sophomore Dejah Thurman. "Only you can do this for yourself."

"I loved the assembly because I could tell that he was truly trying to grasp our attention in a way that made me feel like I could listen to him for hours," added sophomore Kyle Beals.

Before speaking to the continuation high school students on Wednesday, he held a staff development session with Silver Springs teachers on Monday. Bates addressed Nevada Union and Bear River High School students on Tuesday.

Based in San Luis Obispo, Bates travels all over the world 120 days each year addressing school assemblies, Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. military.

"Jeremy's message was powerful because his struggles resonated with so many of our students who have experienced similar challenges," said Silver Springs Principal Marty Mathiesen. "His background parallels that of our kids."

It was the fourth time in the past seven years that NEO, a nonprofit striving to empower youth, has invited Bates to Nevada County and paid his $3,000 speaking fee.

"Jeremy inspires and motivates young people to find hope in their lives and to make positive choices," said Lynn Skrukrud, NEO co-director and co-founder.

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