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Wild Child Conference Key Note Speaker 2011: The Power of Presence

Every year in September in Marion, Ohio there is a conference known as The Wild Child Conference. The goal of this conference is to keep educators and organizations that work with teens in the know about teen life, culture, and the topics that impact their lives. For the third year in a row, I have the honor of being a part of the board of the Wild Child Conference. The 2011 WCC looked at addiction in the lives of teens.  Here, keynote speaker Annette Franks talks in basic terms about addiction.  To be honest, she spoke quickly and I didn’t get a lot of good notes.  But I really liked what she said about the power of presence and hope that is highlighted below.

Information for the 2012 Wild Child Conference

Intro questions:
How many of you grew up living on over an acre?
How many of you live on over an acre of land now?
How many of you turn off your cell phones when you are with your family?

In some ways things are the same, but we can’t deny that life for today’s teen has changed dramatically.  We – the adults in their lives – are overworked and plugged in.  We need to unplug and practice the power of presence.

If people are going to understand addiction, people need to understand what it looks like.
Addiction is the most treatable yet untreated disease in our country.  Treatment is not enough, we plop the kids back into a culture that encourages people to find a sense of wholeness outside of oneself. Our culture encourages addiction. We must change our culture.

Key problem: Searching for wholeness outside of our self.
Kids must learn to be present with them self. They must learn to love self, what it is like to be seen, heard, and valued. We need to be better role models for our children/teens.

We have power in our presence. If we are taking care of ourselves and radiating joy and look children in the eye, they will feel something – that feeling awakens their inner seed.  When a teen comes to you, they are opening a door.  Put down what you are doing, face them, look them in the eye and really listen.

Interesting facts about the U.S.: We have the highest rates of addiction, mental illness, divorce and suicide. We work the longest # of hours and have the fewest number of days off. We are racing . . . but to what? How do we define success in our culture: money, possessions, how you look, name brands.

We have lost touch with our rhythmns of nature. We have lost touch with ourselves.
Substance abuse costs $484 billion a year. Diabetes costs $150 billion a year. Cancer costs $275 billion a year. It’s not just in the substances: it’s in our thinking and behavior.

When you use name brand stuff: YOU are paying to do their advertising. Real success=do you love who you are, do you love what you are doing, do you love your family, do you feel grateful? We have to get back to that!

If we want our teens to recover, we have to be living different as a culture. The thinking of what is really important: Present with our self, present with our loved ones, and we have enough energy to smile and listen. The things that are going to help are kids get sober and stay sober are free.  The greatest gift you can the teens in your life is the Power of Presence.

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