Five years ago, Nathan Harmon took the first step toward achieving his dream of influencing a generation of people when he sent out his first promotional video to schools.
That step ultimately led him to hundreds of schools, including Seymour Middle School.
“This broken crayon,” Harmon said using a metaphor of a broken crayon to refer to himself, “who five years ago just started, today, I’m the No. 1 booked school speaker in the country.”
But things weren’t always so good for Harmon.
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He had a rough life by his own description, including alcohol and drug use, discharge from the military and felony charges.
On July 17, 2009, Harmon crashed a vehicle while under the influence, killing the passenger, Priscilla Owens.
Harmon was sentenced to 15 years in prison and spent three years and nine months there.
From there, he decided to turn his life around, thanks in no small part to the forgiveness of Owens’ parents.
Harmon created Your Life Speaks, a positive and motivational program for school-aged students that speaks on a variety of topics, from trying to achieve your dreams to making good decisions to combating bullying.
On Sept. 4, he spoke to seventh- and eighth-graders at Seymour Middle School for the second time in two years.
Harmon encouraged the students to look at their lives, their friends and their dreams, focusing primarily on stopping bullying.
“I understand where you’re coming from, even if you don’t. You’re trying to hurt people because you’re hurt. You make fun of people, hurt people, but it’s not going to stop your hurting,” he said urging those who committed bullying in the past to rise above it.
“You don’t have to go toe to toe with bullies, throw a hook (punch) or confront them,” he said. “I’m saying be that person who takes the person being picked on aside and tell them it’s not true, that they matter.”
Harmon spoke at length about recognizing when friends might not have the best intentions for others or that students themselves might even be the one only thinking about themselves.
“Your decisions matter. Be careful with who you surround yourself with,” Harmon said.
His message continued into stressing the importance of each student’s self-worth, noting that their dreams are important and that they could achieve whatever dreams they set for themselves.
“Broken, worn, tattered crayons color just as good as brand-new crayons,” Harmon said “You sit in these seats and you control the rest of your future.”
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For information about Nathan Harmon and Your Life Speaks, visit yourlifespeaks.org.