By Chelsea DiSchiano for Saratoga Today>>
(Photo by Mark Bolles/Saratoga Today)
The Palamountain Hall at the Skidmore campus was filled with over 200 high school students from all around Saratoga County on March 12 as they excitedly anticipated a lecture by life coach Jeff Yalden, famous for his appearances as a life coach on MTV’s popular reality program, “MADE.”
Yalden made the appearance for the 31st Annual Safe Spring Student Leadership Conference put on by The Prevention Council of Saratoga County in its effort to encourage students to be sober while celebrating upcoming spring activities, such as the prom and graduation.
Students from 12 school districts in Saratoga County brought in their own “Pride Boards”—decorative poster boards with ideas on how to promote positive prevention methods in their schools—which were then displayed throughout Palamountain Hall for all to see and discuss. The conference started off with a screening of anti-bullying videos created by WSWHE-BOCES students for their “Be an Ally” campaign before the lecture by Jeff Yalden began.
A variety of topics were covered during his almost two-hour long lecture, making the students cheer and clap with loud laughter at certain parts, but wiping away tears at others as he spoke of some of his more morose life experiences and lessons learned.
Yalden gave several personal anecdotes to reveal many of the life lessons he has learned, from growing up in an abusive household and dealing with his grandfather’s death, to his current issues with anxiety and depression.
The lecture had various themes and advice throughout, such as to seek approval only from yourself instead of from others; never change your character for other people and remain true to yourself; making sure to have a positive attitude no matter what and to live life like no one else is watching.
He also spoke frequently about his dog Chase, who passed away two years ago. Many students in the crowd were spotted wiping tears from their eyes as Yalden described his little best friend and how Yalden had taken him for granted his whole life.
“If I stuck one of my daughters and my dog in the trunk of my car for 30 days and then came back to let them out, my dog would be the only one happy to see me,” Yalden said to laughing teenagers. “I took him for granted all 12 years of his life.”
He used his experiences with Chase to compare the way his dog lived to the way humans should live—by accepting others for who they are and never judging anyone.
The final message Yalden emphasized to students was to avoid disappointment by lowering any unrealistic expectations they might have.
“Don’t focus on your expectations,” Yalden said. “Focus on the objective—the present moment—which gives you control. If you do that, you won’t face disappointment.”
“You need to ask yourself three things every day,” Yalden said. “Is my life meaningful? Is it fulfilling? Is it rewarding? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then your purpose isn’t great enough.”
The Wilton Barnes & Noble location will host a bookfair from Saturday, March 16 to Thursday, March 21 to benefit The Prevention Council. The Prevention Council will be in attendance for arts and crafts, face-painting and story time. A percentage of any books purchased at the book fair with a voucher will be donated to the Council.
To learn more about The Prevention Council or for more details on the Bookfair, visit www.preventioncouncil.org.