Eighth-grader leads drive to bring inspirational speaker to Aspen
Kelsey Tainsh, professional speaker and para snowboarder, speaks about persistence and perspective
Aspen Middle School and Challenge Aspen teamed up to bring inspirational speaker Kelsey Tainsh to Aspen Middle School and Aspen Elementary School.
The partnership is thanks to eighth-grader Julian Plessett, who learned about Challenge Aspen over the summer and wanted to do something to support them. He brought his idea to Principal Amy Kendziorski, and together they raised funds for Challenge Aspen with Socktober.
“We raised over, I think, $1,000 for Challenge Aspen,” said Plessett.
“I think the braveness for a student to advocate is amazing,” Kendziorski said.
As a result of this partnership, Tainsh was welcomed to the Aspen District Theater on Wednesday night and gave a talk about the power of persistence and perspective.
At 5 years old, Tainsh overcame a brain tumor after being given two weeks to live. The tumor returned when she was 15 and was followed by a crippling stroke that left her without a functioning right side, also paralyzing her with fear and self doubt.
“If there’s one thing I learned in my life so far, it’s that life changes so quickly, which is why it’s important we find happiness every day. Even if it’s kitten videos on Youtube,” she said in her presentation.
She worked to pull herself up and is now an acclaimed professional speaker and para snowboarder who travels the country speaking to students, organizations, and corporations. Every time she was told she couldn’t do something, she took that as a challenge and was even more determined to do it she said.
“We all have struggles. We all have challenges. We have the ability to take the positive out of those challenges and define it, but it all has to do with our attitude and our perspective,” she said.
Her talk also touched on the importance of creativity, especially in youth.
“By instilling that creativity in our youth and allowing them to be creative, you’re allowing them to continue to change the world,” Tainsh said.
She kicked off her time in Aspen with a talk at the district theater for Aspen School District Staff. She then spent time at the middle and elementary schools Tuesday, giving five presentations in six hours.
“We had an amazing day,” she said.
Tainsh talked to students about being accepting of differences and embracing all differences rather than singling someone out for them.
“Just because a person looks different doesn’t mean they should be treated that way,” she said.
She said she hopes students learn that struggles help with growth from her talks and start to change their perspectives when presented with a challenge.
“When we change our perspective, we can change the way we react to the hard things that we’re going through or react to things in general. When we change the way we react, we can change the outcome,” she said. “That, for me, has been how I’ve gotten through.”
To learn more about Tainsh, visit her website: http://www.kelseytainsh.com.
To reach Audrey Ryan, email her at email@example.com.
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