In 2017, the Two Harbors, Minnesota High School DECA chapter needed to come up with an idea for a group project.
They started talking about the most significant issues they felt were impacting their school. They realized that they had a culture that is disrespectful to each other and that they couldn't be open and honest with each other in a kind way. These attitudes were willing to break someone down and refused to build each other up. If someone had a difference in opinion, they were flat out wrong. No one wanted to speak up in discussions, and learning no longer felt safe. It lacked all civility.
A group of DECA members approached their principal, Mr. Belcastro, to talk about the school's civility issues. He encouraged and challenged them to come up with a solution to the problem.
As they were thinking about Mr. Belcastro's challenge, they decided it was critical to expose this issue. They were curious; wanting to know was this just Two Harbors High School, or were other schools struggling as well? They decided to contact students and administration from numerous schools in the surrounding region. You know what they found out? It is a problem not only in other schools - but our culture as a whole. And they were determined to fix it.
They decided to host a day-long conference titled the "Civility Summit," and the purpose was to tackle incivility head-on.
They knew they needed a professional speaker who could drive home the importance of being civil to each other. They were then introduced to "Dr. Mike" Thomson - a nationally recognized professional speaker who of all things grew up in their area, and has since spoken to more than 2.5 million people around the world about Civility, Character & Leadership issues!
Dr. Mike, as he is known around the country, is a high-energy speaker who educates, engages, & empowers people to do better with their lives. They could not think of a more perfect person to speak on this topic, so they invited him to be the keynote and emcee for the day at the Civility Summit. Dr. Mike agreed with enthusiasm. It was game-changing for their project!
They invited 16 regional high schools to the Civility Summit, and they all agreed to attend the 8:30 - 1:30 summit. They also wanted to see a change in their community too. They invited numerous school board, business, ministerial and community leaders connected to each high school to participate as a working Civility Team in the summit. Their Mayor, Chris Swanson proclaimed the day as Two Harbors Civility Day. Their Chamber of Commerce President, Janelle Jones invited numerous business leaders knowing that this issue is clearly affecting their current and future workforce.
They knew they were onto something BIG.
They filled their auditorium with over 600 people and listened to the impactful and challenging messages from Dr. Mike. No one was on their phone. Everyone was writing everything down that Dr. Mike talked about. They were engaged and hungry for information he shared. The theme for the day was displayed on a huge banner that everyone signed on their way into the venue that read, "Better Me : Better You : Better Us!"
Throughout the day, participants divided up into breakout groups and discussed questions that Dr. Mike challenged them on. All together for one day. All in one setting. All engaging in robust dialogue with not only each other but also other invited local area Civility Teams representing their school and communities. All formulating a plan of action to bring back to their respective school and communities that would raise the bar for Civility, Character & Leadership.
But the Civility Summit event was just the beginning…
Dr. Mike said right from the start that he would not get involved if this was going to be just another one-and-done event. As Dr. Mike puts it, “If you truly want to make a difference, then you must feed your brain a constant and never ending diet long after any event ends. If repetition truly is the mother of success, then I have an obligation to provide resources for people to become a better version of themselves for tomorrow.”
Dr. Mike and his office follow up with everyone who attends the Civility Summit literally one hour after they leave in order continue to feed them that diet of Civility, Leadership & Character tips through multiple social media vehicles. There is a LOT of education, interaction and sharing of thoughts and ideas that occurs. Individuals and schools are challenged throughout the year to share not only great ideas that are working in their schools and communities but also participate in fun and engaging online contests. The education, engagement & empowerment is amazing to witness!
Then there was a lightbulb moment that the Two Harbors students had after the Civility Summit...
Could acts of kindness have a positive impact on mental health? They started researching and sure enough; many studies prove that one of the most impactful things we can do for people's mental health is to do a kind thing for them. Not only does it impact the person that receives the kind act, but it also has a powerful and positive impact on the person who is kind.
They decided they wanted to get as many people as possible to do acts of kindness. They felt if there was a challenge involved they could get more engagement from others too, so they formed the kindness challenge called, “Find The Kind & Donate Challenge.” Their purpose behind everything that they are doing is, “to positively impact mental health through acts of kindness.” The reason why they run their kindness challenges on social media is to engage as many people possible in acts of kindness.
Lastly, they decided they wanted the 100% of donations that would be raised from the Find The Kind & Donate Challenge to go to the National Civility Association. Their primary mission is to help host Civility Summits in high schools nationwide. The reason why they chose this cause is that they saw the impact that the Civility Summit had in the schools that attended and individuals lives, and they wanted to help “Pay It Forward” and spread that same impact nationwide.
Chris Swanson, Janelle Jones, Jay Belcastro, and the wonderful DECA students from Two Harbors have stayed in constant contact with Dr. Mike and provide him with ongoing thoughts & ideas on how to always make things better for schools and communities though the Civility Summits. They make a wonderful team!
As a result, Dr. Mike is now in high demand across the country as one of the National Civility Association’s top speakers for this event. Dr. Mike is proud to carry on the tradition that these great young men and ladies from Two Harbors Minnesota started. “We just keep getting better and better every year,” says Dr. Mike.
Host districts are shining the PR & Media light not only on their School District, Superintendent, Board, Student & Staff Leaders but also honoring their HomeTown Heroes/First Responders: Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Paramedics, Military, National Guard, Ministerial Association, Chamber of Commerce, City leaders and other invited community VIPs.
The bottomline is that we are finding out that Civility Summits:
Our question to you - Are you interested in hosting a Civility Summit in Your Area?
You can join us in starting a culture of change by wanting to host a Civility Summit in your area. It’s simple - Just click here - NCAHolly@gmail.com - to send us an email and let us know that you are interested in getting one going in your area and we will get back to you right away!
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