MOLINE - As youngsters file in for a Monday assembly at Seton Catholic School, they don't know that they'll face some tough questions.
"Who here has ever been called a name that hurt their feelings?" asked Kelsey Tainsh, 28, a motivational speaker from Atlanta.
Tainsh talks about happiness and helping others. It sounds simple enough until she reveals her personal story.
She overcame a brain tumor at 5 to have it return a decade later. She became a world-class wakeboarder before suffering a paralyzing stroke at 15.
"We need to change the way we look at that challenge," she said on Monday, October 22. "We need to change our perspective."
She turned her self-described dark hole of misery and self-pity into a mission to help others. She knows what it's like to lose friends, be bullied and feel alone.
"Much of my hardest challenges were experienced at their age," she recalled. "So when I talk about those, they relate to that."
This presentation is more like a two-way conversation.
"Things that make you different, unique and special are actually the best things about you," she said.
Tainsh, who spent time at Seton for Red Ribbon Week, counts Harvard Medical School and Coca-Cola among her national clients.
Through exercises and improvs, she's changing attitudes and outlooks.
"We teach them to try to share their challenges, to embrace them and use them to help other people," she said.
It's a timely message about being open to kindness, and one that she delivers very effectively.
"I hope I can encourage them that they can do anything they want in their lives," she concluded.
For more information: http://www.kelseytainsh.com