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Be Unique and Different
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The 2015 Student Leadership Conference – organized by a committee of students from Fort Ann, Hartford, Corinth, Warrensburg, Newcomb, and Granville – encouraged participants to BUD (Be Unique and Different) into a unique person.
Student representatives from both the F. Donald Myers and Southern Adirondack Education Centers who attended the conference were as follows:
The keynote speaker of the event was Kelsey Tainsh, who lived a regular life with her parents and siblings until the age of five, when she started bumping into walls and doors and constantly rubbing her eyes. A MRI revealed she had a large brain tumor that was surgically removed two days later. Following a summer of radiation, Kelsey’s life returned to normal, except that she became a spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and started an organization called Pet-a-Pup that gives hospitalized children the chance to play with puppies. She also traveled on medical mission trips and landed roles on "Desperate Housewives" and "Gilmore Girls."
Kelsey’s brain tumor returned when she was in 10th grade. Sometime after or during the surgery, she had a stroke that left her paralyzed on the right side. She had to relearn to tie her shoes, brush her teeth, and walk again. Now she travels around the country talking to students about overcoming obstacles.
“Successful people in life don’t say ‘I can’t,’” Kelsey says. “They say, ‘I can, I just don’t know how yet’ or ‘I can, I don’t know how, but I’ll figure it out.’ With that attitude I believe we can do anything.”
Students at the Leadership Conference interacted with their peers from other schools in WSWHE BOCES's five-county region. They participated in ice breakers, mini-workshops, and regrouping activities that focused on internal leadership. Concepts included: keeping the goal in mind, making decisions on how to reach personal goals, the many routes a person can take in life, and how to work beyond a person’s fears (of the unknown/of rejection/of failure).
Participants also discussed building upon a person’s strengths instead of hiding a person’s differences, “trying differently to live differently,” not being satisfied with “normal,” and recognizing that many successes follow first attempt failures.
The annual Student Leadership Conference is coordinated through WSWHE BOCES and held at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark.