Haines School welcomes motivational speaker Jesse LeBeau to overcome doubt and inspire confidence | KHNS Radio


Jesse LeBeau encourages Haines students to quiet skeptical voices and pursue big dreams (Corinne Smith/KHNS)

The Haines school welcomed motivational speaker Jesse LeBeau on Monday, as part of a year-long mental health program to help middle and high school students build confidence, optimism and resilience. KHNS’ Corinne Smith has more.


Haines middle and high school students and staff gathered in the elementary school gymnasium for a special assembly with Jesse LeBeau. He is known as a “teen celebrity trainer” and travels the country to share his story of being an underdog, but pursuing his dream of playing basketball and eventually acting in Hollywood.

LeBeau is energetic and smiling, and chooses two brave eighth graders to volunteer for a game showing tricks with a basketball. Then there’s a race to collect $100 cash from LeBeau, and another eighth-grader wins.

“He took action, didn’t he?” said LeBeau. “Acting is the biggest thing that separates winning from losing in our lives.”

LeBeau is from Ketchikan and grew up smaller than his peers but determined to play basketball. He says he’s heard doubts about his size and ability, but he’s worked hard in training – he shows a video montage of his skills progressing on the pitch.

“Right now I had two choices,” he said. “Two choices you’re going to have for the rest of your life – I could get bitter, or I could get better”

LeBeau says he achieved his dreams, got a college basketball scholarship and went on to perform on TV, in movies and in commercials with NBA athletes. Now he’s sharing those lessons with kids across the country and wants to help inspire students’ confidence to achieve big goals.

“The biggest obstacle you will have to overcome in your life is you. It doesn’t matter what other people say or think, only what you think matters,” he said.

The presentation kicks off a new year-long mental health curriculum for the approximately 150 middle and high school students in Haines. LeBeau’s program is called ‘The attitude advantage and he said in an interview that he offers virtual one-on-one coaching and monthly sessions with mental health experts on goal development, optimism and problem solving.

“They have to learn to deal with adversity. They have to know how to handle failure, because that’s real life,” Lebeau said. “Real pandemics are going to happen. You’re not going to get the job, you’re not going to make the all-star team, and either you have resilience and grit or you’re going to crumble. And we see a lot of people falling apart right now. So that’s something that we really focus on in our program, is to build self-esteem and build confidence. But you can’t just give someone that they have to earn it by accomplishing something, and that they have to work for it.

Rookie Ashlyn Ganey said she appreciated his message

“I think that’s pretty cool, and I liked how he talked about his experiences with other people and how they saw him, being such a little guy, and where he got there. where he is now.”

Haines principal Lilly Boron says it’s exciting to kick off the program right after Haines’ first basketball tournament last weekend.

“To have him here and talk to us right after our first successful basketball tournament, where anyone could come,” Boron said. “This is the first unrestricted event we’ve held in two and a half years.”

The program is $25,000 funded through CARES Act funding and approved by the Haines School Board.

Boron says he will also provide training to Haines staff and any interested parents to help the children through difficult times.

“There are so many obstacles for students these days, whether it’s social media, or just the challenges we face with the pandemic or just their own self-esteem,” Boron said. “We want to give everyone the tools they need, so we work to support children from all angles, whether it’s school or home, or just students helping each other. So I can’t wait to be there. »

After the assembly, a group of children run to LeBeau with thanks and comments, and the others head to lunch where he will catch up with them. LeBeau tells KHNS that he sees himself in children in small Southeast communities like Haines, and he hopes his underdog story can inspire.

“You never know what people are going through,” LeBeau said. “And sometimes it’s the kids with the biggest smiles who seem to have it all figured out who go through the hardest things.”

In Hains, the program is aimed at students in grades 6-12 and is expected to take place next year.

Last month, the school in Haines welcomed Nick Hanson, aka the Eskimo Ninja, a seven-time American Ninja Warrior athlete and motivational speaker from Unalakleet, Alaska. He spoke to students about the importance of knowing who you are and being proud of where you come from.

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