October is Bullying Awareness Month and Ashley Chapel School and Leak Street High School have celebrated with a variety of activities, culminating with a visit from a former NFL player.
Levar Fisher played football for the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints and attended North Carolina State University. Drafted into the NFL by the Cardinals in 2002, Fisher uses the same strength and fortitude that got him into the NFL to now inspire people of all ages through his motivational speaking.
With youths gathered in the cafeteria, the large former Outside Linebacker spoke loudly about holding onto the vision the youth had of themselves. He talked about his own life and how he attained his goals.
“I found myself in the back of a police car, crying my eyes out, saying, ‘How am I going to get to college from here?’” said Fisher. “You want to be successful at something. You’ve got to get back on that line, that’s what successful people do. There are no losers in this room, no matter what anyone has said to you.”
Fisher related to the students on many levels. He told a story about being a student in a classroom, where the teacher said, “I can already tell which of you will be successful.” He shared that he felt upset and angry when the teacher didn’t look at him.
“All I could think was, ‘I’m going to make someone proud one day,’” said Fisher to the students.
Fisher said it was important for kids to work hard in school, take responsibility for their actions and to hold on to their dreams.
“Adversity is nothing but a slip and fall,” said Fisher. “If you dream big enough, the facts of your life don’t matter. I dreamt of going to college, of playing for the NFL and making millions — I did it.”
Fisher said he came from a neighborhood where it was unheard of for someone to leave and become successful. Fisher shares a message he said can save your life.
“Freeze. Pause. Stop and think about the consequences. This can save your life when no one else is around,” said Fisher.
Fisher encouraged the youth to “stop and think” just before doing something that might take them from their dreams and goals. He grabbed a towel off a table nearby and invited a youth to join him up front. His name was Isaiah Cade, 16. Fisher told Cade the towel was his dream, and asked him to grab the towel with his hands and hold on. Fisher said people might come up to Cade and say, “Hey, let’s go smoke,” and as Fisher said they would be taking Cade’s dream, he pulled on the towel. With each example, Fisher pulled on the towel and Cade pulled back harder. Eventually Fisher let go, and Cade had the towel.
“There are no winners or losers here,” said Fisher. “We are all choosers.”
Cade said the towel metaphor was “inspiring.”
“I thought it was very motivating,” said Cade. “(My biggest goal is) proving everyone wrong.”
Rosalind and Jolani Boyd of Hamlet, parents of 16-year-olds Alicia Childers and Alexis Covington, said they enjoyed the program.
“I think it was great,” said Rosalind Boyd. “He was giving the students some steps for positive thinking.”
“It was very good advice,” said Jolani Boyd. “The children listened well and were respectful.”
After playing three seasons in the NFL, Fisher was released from the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. He was signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2006 where he suffered a terrible knee injury and thus retired from the NFL in 2007.
“I’m not on the field anymore, but I’m passionately using everything I have to help my team win, and my team now… is simply everyone within earshot,” he said.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.