A motivational speaker who overcame many difficulties and obstacles in his youth shared his story to students in the after-school programs offered year-round at Brookfield and Niles schools.
The program invited students from both schools to come together early in May for a presentation by Jim ''Basketball'' Jones of Toledo.
Rick George, assistant director of the Center for Human Services and Development at Youngstown State University, said the two after-school programs offered in Brookfield and Niles deal with bullying, building self-esteem and leadership.
Motivational speaker Jim ‘‘Basketball’’ Jones shows Niles students Caitlyn Waltenbaugh and Ariel Tarbay how to spin a basketball on your finger as part of the after-school program offered in Brookfield and Niles.
"The students found our speaker by doing research online. They did all the work and brought him here,'' George said.
Caitlyn Waltenbaugh and Ariel Tarbay, both of Niles McKinley High School, coordinated the effort to get a motivational speaker to address the students. Caitlyn said she and Tarbay, also a freshman, found Jones when they learned he conducts inspirational shows open bullying and life lessons. The Career Path After School Program goes from September to the end of the school year. This is the third year for the program.
Sharing the message that each person matters, Jones said that in first grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. After he was placed in a special education program, Jones said it took five years working with his tutors and speech therapists before he made into a regular classroom part of the day in sixth grade. This adversity fundamentally shaped Jim's view of the world, and provided him with many early life lessons about the good of accepting help from others, overcoming adversity, and learning to appreciate difference. These would later become the cornerstones of his career as a public speaker.
"You are important. You can tell yourself you can, and you will,'' he said.
Jones said he is all about individuals developing and harnessing their inner strength and positive mind set to lead a better more fulfilling lives.
''We have to take ownership in our own effort, be willing to learn from others and believe in ourselves to realize our potential,'' he said. "We all learn differently. Don't let anyone steal your dreams,'' he said noting he often got into fights in elementary school due to frustration.
Jones said he was picked on in elementary school but after learning to spin and juggle basketballs and do tricks, he was asked to entertain at various events, including at a Cleveland Cavaliers game.
''Once people saw what I could do, they wanted to learn,'' he said.
As he progressed through high school and college, he said things began to change as his reading rate improved. He was accepted into Bowling Green State University on the strength of his grade-point average. He graduated from the Bowling Green business college.
Waltenbaugh, a freshman at Niles, said she has been involved with the after-school program for three years.
"You learn to treat everyone equally and learn how to succeed in what you do in life,'' she said.
Tarbay said she is also completing her third year being part of the program.
"We have become like a family here. You can count on one another," she said.