Motivational speakers plan local presentations

STEUBENVILLE – Steubenville City Schools and the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley are co-sponsoring a series of speaking engagements over a three-day period led by motivational youth speaker Reggie Dabbs.

“You Can Never Change Your Past But You Can Change Your Future” is the theme to which the Fort Myers, Fla., resident speaks in his addresses to 2.5 million teens a year.

The presentations kick off Sunday during the 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. worship services at Starkdale Presbyterian Church on Sunset Boulevard and continue there at 6:30 p.m. with a youth group/communitywide church rally.

On Monday, Dabbs’s schedule is 9:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Wintersville Elementary School; 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Indian Creek High School; 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., fifth- and sixth-graders at Harding Middle School; and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., a family/community rally at Wintersville Middle School.

Tuesday’s schedule is 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., pastor and youth worker; 9:10 a.m. to 9:50 a.m., Wells Academy; 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Steubenville High School; 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., East Garfield Elementary School; 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., West Pugliese Elementary School; and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. family/community rally at Steubenville High School.

Born to an unwed teenager who at one time struggled whether to give him birth, Dabbs considers himself fortunate to be alive, according to a press release about his life. With no place to go, the pregnant teenager ended up living in a chicken coop in Tennessee. It was there she remembered a former school teacher, Mrs. Dabbs, who had said to her students, “If you ever need anything, call me,” and gave the students her home phone number. The girl called.

Mrs. Dabbs and her husband, whose six children were adults by this time, took the girl into their home and cared for her until after the baby was born. They continued to care for little Reggie as foster parents until he was in the fourth grade, and then they officially adopted him and gave him the Dabbs name.

As the Dabbs’ reared Reggie, they nurtured him in the Christian faith and instilled in him strong moral values, for which he is genuinely grateful. They also ingrained in him the fact that in every situation he faced, he had a choice. What he did with those choices was entirely up to him.

In the sixth grade, Reggie began playing the saxophone and hated it. At the insistence of his parents he continued to practice and to play. Not until his freshman year in college did he actually enjoy the instrument, and today, he plays with fervor and expertise.

After graduating from college, Dabbs began his public speaking career. During one speaking engagement, his host asked if he would be interested in addressing a high school assembly. From that small beginning in 1987, Reggie now is one of the most popular public school speakers in the United States, speaking to more than 2.5 million teens each year. When addressing a school assembly, Dabbs talks to the kids in a humorous style about choices each of them has when faced with drugs, alcohol, suicide, etc. He shares with students that he never smoked a cigarette, never did drugs, never drank alcohol, because he chose not to. He assures them that they can make the same kinds of choices.

Dabbs talks to kids about family and how thankful they should be that they have families. He talks to them about dating relationships and emphasizes that one should make wise choices and always respect the person you are with. Most of all, he drives home the fact that “You can never change your past, but you can change your future.”