PLATTSBURGH — Kevin Wanzer believes in the power of a positive attitude and the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities.
“Things are only negative if you allow them to be negative,” the motivational speaker recently told nearly 150 high-school students at Clinton Community College for the 10th-annual Youth Leadership Conference.
The event, presented by the Clinton County Youth Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network and OneWorkSource, was designed to provide students with the skills needed to become leaders.
Wanzer, who has spoken to more than 3,000 audiences around the world, used humor and anecdotes to demonstrate the importance of being true to one’s self, looking out for others and, of course, remembering to laugh.
In addition, the keynote speaker stressed how people tend to have more in common than they often realize.
Wanzer asked everyone in the audience who was an only child to raise a hand. He then asked anyone who had ever walked out of a movie to do the same. And people who have procrastinated were also asked to identify themselves.
With each of the attributes Wanzer described, multiple students raised their hands.
“If we focus on what we have in common, than the differences don’t matter,” he said.
Children and pets, Wanzer noted, are great role models because they typically accept people for who they are without giving much thought to their differences.
Though people tend to become less accepting of each other’s differences as they become older, Wanzer added, it’s never too late to change that.
“How we treat others is a choice,” he said.
Following the presentation, Chazy Central Rural School sophomore Kayleigh Bell told the Press-Republican she found Wanzer’s ideas “eye opening,” especially those about children being so accepting of others.
“They don’t, like, judge people, and I thought that was really interesting, and I never really thought of that before,” she said.