Students learn how to turn passions into careers
Springhouse Middle School students learned how to turn their passions into careers from Valerie Weisler, founder and chief executive officer of The Validation Project, during the school’s recent Take a Stand anti-bullying presentation.
The Validation Project, an international organization, works with more than 6,000 teenagers in 105 countries to turn their passions into positive action through mentoring and social justice assignments.
Weisler told the students she started the organization when she 14, a freshman in high school, who was being bullied at school.
“I started to feel pretty bad about myself,” she said. “Then one day, I was walking through the hallway at school and I saw another student getting bullied at his locker.
“I thought to myself, what are two words I would want someone to tell me right now — you matter.
“When I was getting bullied that was the only thing I wanted to hear that I was worth it, so I went up to that student and told him two simple words, ‘You matter’ and he started to cry.”
Weisler said after that, the word validation stuck with her and she got the idea for a program at her school where kids could receive this validation.
“I went home and I Googled how to make a website, Weisler said.
“I sat at my kitchen table for six hours and designed The Validation Project.”
After Weisler shared her story with the students, she told them they did not need to know at this time what they were passionate about. They were allowed to be excited about many different things.
“Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it,” Weisler told students.
She then asked seventh grader Aiden Downing to help prove this point.
“If there were one sentence you could say to inspire these middle schoolers what would it be?” Weisler asked Downing.
After thinking for a moment Downing replied.
“Just to keep being yourself no matter what anybody says,” he said.
Weisler then addressed the students.
“Ten seconds of courage can change not just your life but change the way days go by here at Springhouse,” she said.
Weisler also told them to take after Aiden. He faked it until he made it.
Another point she made was instead of asking what is the worst that could happen when there is an opportunity, take a stand and ask what is the best that could happen.
“When a celebrity or your teacher figured out what they wanted to do, it was because of something difficult they had experienced,” Weisler stated.
For her, it was being at her lowest, being bullied. In her darkest moment, she found her light: The Validation Project.
“Incredible things happen when you allow yourself to be human,” she told the students.
Weisler closed the presentation by telling students they cannot change the world until they take care of themselves.
She advised them to surround themselves with people who make them the bravest version of themselves.
Students then participated in team building exercises in the gym and via laptops in their classrooms.
To learn more about Weisler and The Validation Project, visit thevalidationproject.org.