SANDPOINT — People don’t always realize that their words, actions and inactions not only have immediate consequences, but a long-term impact on others as well.
“When it comes to the things that we do, when it comes to things that we say, when it comes to things that we don’t do, it always has a ripple effect,” Aric Jackson, youth leadership motivational speaker, told Sandpoint High School student when he visited the school earlier this month.
His message, titled “Ripple Affect,” focused on helping youth find their path forward, while remembering that everything they do will have an effect others, and to try not to let negative people impact their plans and dreams. Using his own experiences, Jackson detailed how the ripple impacted him through his friends and family in both good and bad ways. Jackson said his dad left when he was a kid, leaving his mom to raise him and his little sister in a bad Chicago neighborhood. His mom ultimately inspired him to go to college, but his friends filled him full of self-doubt, telling him he would never make it.
Jackson has an acronym for those who try to drag others down – HATERS. This stands for “having attitude toward everyone reaching success,” he said.
It was when his mom, with tears in her eyes, asked him if she had done a good job raising him that he decided to turn his life around.
“That cut deep,” he said. “The woman who gave up everything for me is now questioning if she did a good job, and that’s what my ripple affect had … me not trusting myself, me not wanting to dream bigger or me not wanting to have something bigger, it shifted in that moment.”
This was not Jackson’s first visit to SHS. In fact, the students who are seniors this year were freshman the last time Jackson was in town. This time, he was brought to the school through the suicide awareness nonprofit Walk for HOPE, which is held over Labor Day weekend each year. Walk for HOPE founder Jennifer Wyman said he was able to visit six area schools in three days – SHS, Sandpoint Middle School, Lake Pend Oreille High School, Clark Fork Jr/Sr High School, as well as Bonners Ferry Middle School and high school.
Wyman said his “Ripple Affect” message, and how it can have a both a positive and negative effect on others, seemed to impact all the students.
“The students really seemed to connect with this topic and understood how they could make a difference not only for themselves, but for their community,” Wyman said. “He challenged the students to be leaders and explained that youth leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. You don’t necessarily have to get up in front of a lot of people or lead a huge movement – leadership can be as simple as being helpful at home with your younger siblings.”
During his presentation at SHS, Jackson called out all of the counseling staff and, arms linked as they walked around the room, he reminded the students that they are not alone.
“For those of you in this room who think you’ve got to figure it out all by yourself, you are working too hard, you are doing too much,” Jackson said. “A big part of the ripple effect, when it comes to yourself, is realizing that you are not alone and realizing there are people who actually want to help you.”
Mary Malone can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.