With Thanksgiving just around the corner I am reminded of a situation I encountered several years ago.   I was sitting outside a medical building waiting for my wife and daughter to finish an appointment at the pediatrician’s office. As I waited, I saw a cute boy around four years old on crutches exiting the building with his mother. They walked to their car and the mother opened the back door for the boy to climb in. As he was getting situated, he fell to the floorboard of the car, but he quickly picked himself up and got back into his seat. As I watched this entire situation unfold, I suddenly became so thankful of the simple, everyday things we take for granted. You see, the boy was hobbling on crutches not because he had a cast, but because he didn’t have a right leg. Too many times it is easy to focus on the negatives and not the positives. When you compare your difficulties to what others are going through, you suddenly realize how fortunate you are. I thought for sure when the mother and son got to the car, she would help him get in. No way! He wasn’t going to let a minor setback in life slow him down. He did it on his own.

How many times in life do we let a small headache, lack of sleep or a difficult situation ruin our day? The next time you’re having a “bad day,” bend one leg behind you, wrap it several times with duct tape and leave it that way for 24 hours. There’s no doubt that would help each of us keep things in perspective and remind us of how thankful we all should truly be.

Thanksgiving (or celebrating with thankfulness) isn’t something the Pilgrims invented. It has been a part of the world from the very beginning.  Let’s take a look at a couple attributes of a THANKFUL person.

The THANKFUL person is grateful for what they have, not bitter about what they don’t have. They try to look for the good in every situation. Have you ever been around that kind of person?

  • It’s raining: “Oh, good! This is going to make the flowers grow!”
  • They have a flat tire: “Thank God it happened on this residential street and not the freeway!”

They are so positive! How many of you could use a shot of this in your life!  The THANKFUL person counts every day as a blessing regardless of the circumstances.  They are not moved by what they see.  How can they be thankful even when things go wrong? Because they don’t live based upon circumstances, but based upon their Faith in the future and the promises they believe in.

The questions for all of us this Thanksgiving are pretty simple… What kind of person are you?  What kind of person do you want to be? Do you need to make an adjustment?  This month I have a Thanksgiving homework project for you to do. Before midnight on Thanksgiving Day, I want you to thank every family member and close personal friend for something they have done for you over the past year.  You’ll be amazed at what this does for your relationships!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chad Varga

America’s Teens in Trouble

Chad Varga AssemblyEvery month I write a blog and many of them concerning the desperate state of America’s youth and the need for our character education assembly programs in schools. The reason we continue to try and inform people of this need is because of what we are seeing in the youth of our nation’s public school systems. I often wonder if people realize what our children and grand children are being exposed to. I will try and give you a glimpse through my next two blogs.

Brian Graden, MTV’s president of programming said: “I can’t help but be worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could give a child to be ready.”

Today’s Teens Targeted and Exploited…

  • Advertising to teens is an estimated $150 billion a year industry.
  • Nearly 61% of all television programming contains violence, with children’s programming being the most violent.
  • MTV is watched by 73% of boys and 78% of girls ages 12 to 19, and it is profoundly influential in the lives of its young fans by glamorizing drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and violent behavior.
  • MTV airs 9 sexual scenes per hour and more than 8 un-bleeped profanities per hour.
  • One in five children ages 10-17 that regularly use the Internet has received a sexual solicitation while online.
  • One in four children were unwillingly exposed to images of naked people or people having sex.
  • 90% of 8-16-year-olds have seen pornography online, most while doing homework.
  • 80% of 15-17-year-olds have had multiple hard-core pornographic exposures.

Today’s Teens and Sex…

  • 34 percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20Ñabout 820,000 a year.
  • Approximately four million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year.
  • 8,000 teenagers contract an STD every day.
  • An estimated half of all new HIV infections occur in people under age 25.

 A Huge Task…

As you can see, we have a huge task in front of us to partner with educators across America in our effort to instill principles, values, and ethics that will somehow cut through all the wrong messages being sent to our young people today. As we launch into another year of school assemblies, we need your help now more than ever to truly make a difference in this generation of students. Our schools are the fountainhead from which will come nearly every future business person, lawmaker, school teacher, and parent in America. As we invest in them today, we are building a better America for tomorrow-one school at a time!


Lessons From History

Past:Future PicThe statistics are overwhelming. A noticeable lack of respect, integrity, and leadership is what seems to be defining this generation of students. Imagine an America where truth is relative…where tolerance means silence…where concern over the trivial dominates the TV media (reality shows). While we’ve certainly seen a decline in morality in America over the last 40 years, I believe that we are on the verge of an unprecedented shift in the ethical climate of our nation. Some people have even said that what I do through speaking to students is really just fighting an uphill battle; that there’s no way we can make a real difference. I guess that we could use that as an excuse and say they’re right, and accept the fact that there is no possible way to see true change in the character of today’s teens. Fortunately, we have the audacity to believe that this change is possible and the future can be bright for our Nations youth.

As I look at history, however, no one was ever remembered for accepting the status quo or simply taking a back seat when they saw an injustice. No, history remembers those who chose to stand up while others sat down, to speak up when others were silent, and to sacrifice while others were sulking. What if today, we decided to stand up for truth, speak up against injustice, and make a sacrifice that will launch the next generation toward their dreams instead of complaining about what we don’t have? Every indisputably great person who changed the course of history had these incredible qualities.

The Time is Now!

HelpMany people say that this generation of teenagers is a lost generation. No other generation in history has been so plagued by drugs, alcohol, sex, bullying, and greed at such a young age. Everyone knows something terrible has happened in the social development of today’s youth. Crime and violence have become so common that many schools throughout the country have metal detectors installed at the entrances. The reality is our culture has become so tolerant that it is inadvertently creating a perversion of our youth and the downward spiral has become blatantly obvious.

Our entire society is experiencing an ethical collapse and this collapse has become so urgent that most leaders in education acknowledge that our foundations are being threatened. Our nations’ media and entertainment outlets seem to be more concerned about ratings than the effects their programs are having on our teenagers. You have to wonder what kind of world we are living in where many of our country’s leaders look the other way while these destructive ideals are being pushed on our youth. So many of our young people have been robbed of all moral concepts.

We all should be burdened by what we see and motivated to play a part in initiating change to inspire our youth through character development. It’s time we take responsibility and give of our time, resources, and talents to instill the time-tested results that good character traits provide. Test scores are important, but infusing personal character development into the daily academic routine for students is ultimately what will address these areas of need and create a better society for the future.

What Are We Creating?

troubled-teensThere is no question that America’s youth are facing tremendous challenges that are holding them back from reaching their full potential. Risky behaviors, including alcohol, illegal drug and tobacco use, violence, and early sexual activity, are among the leading causes for unreached potential in teenagers.  However, I believe the reason these problems exist for our nations youth are much deeper than the visible surface issues of just risky behaviors.  I am convinced, that a majority of teenagers’ problems exist because of the steady decline of value systems, the lack of parental involvement, and the gradual move away from teaching the importance of having good character.

Studies indicate that a lot of people are afraid of the kind of society we are becoming in the United States.  Many people think that there is some significant difference between kids today and kids “like we were,” and they believe things are deteriorating.  Based on 14 years of speaking to more than 3 million people I am convinced that things are deteriorating and believe that most Americans are genuinely concerned by the world they see.   Its almost as though we’ve lost interest in raising children in our society, and a good deal of our problem comes from that.  Teenagers today are spending more time with their friends and less time with adult supervision and the results are that they have become responsible for socializing one another.

Parents and teachers see the need and feel as if they are not equipped to do a good enough job and are asking themselves, “How can we better influence the kind of people that our kids become?”  Simply put, parents and teachers are desperate for help and are looking to companies like ours who provide real and authentic character development assemblies, programs and resources.

Character education is needed in every school in the United States regardless of demographics; from urban to rural, the need exists.  It is vital for every student, regardless of background, ethnicity or societal status.  Youth throughout America face the same needs, the same challenges, and the same realities in their lives.  I believe in order to mold and shape the value systems of teenagers, we have to be willing to devote more time, effort and resources that will inspire, educate and equip them to embrace character as a lifestyle. I may be old school but I still believe that integrity, respect, honesty, perseverance, compassion and courage are the fundamental building blocks for building a better society.

Just think what life would be like in the future if teenagers were encouraged to embrace a lifestyle of doing whatever they wanted, without regard for consequences. The most important thing in life would be to get exactly what you want, whenever you want, and by any means necessary. Thus, you have the absolute right to do whatever you have to do, to satisfy whatever desire, craving, or wish you have.  Tell the truth at all times, unless it’s to your advantage to lie, deceive, or tell a partial truth.  Never take responsibility for anything. That way, you never have to worry that you may have done the wrong thing. Blame the misfortunes of the world, and in your own life, on the poor judgment of other people.  Keep your promises, unless something better comes along.  Kindness is for wimps. Let your true feelings show, no matter how unpleasant they may be.  Show care and compassion for your fellow human beings, unless they’ve hurt you. In that case, all bets are off. Have little or no regard for how your actions affect other people. It’s their problem, not yours, if they’re offended or harmed by what you say or do.  Never, ever cheat, unless you can get away with it.  Do not, under any circumstance, report wrongdoings you observe. Don’t get involved. It’s none of your business. Always follow the New Golden Rule: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”  In other words…Think about yourself, and only about yourself, and you will be fine.

Seriously, how long could anyone live this way? What would the world look like if everyone followed these rules? It doesn’t take long to realize that it’s in our countries own best interest to teach our children the importance of character and to take ethics seriously.  Yes, it’s possible to imagine a world without character. But is that a world in which any rational person would want to live?