Messages of Kindness
Energizing Students with Messages of Kindness
You couldn’t tell by looking at the well-adjusted, charismatic guest speaker, Shadrack Boakye, that he was a Liberian refugee who nearly died at the hands of rebels when he was a toddler, or that later, while trying to adjust to America without knowing English or having a comparable education, he was so isolated by racial harassment and negativity, that as a seventh grader, Shadrack contemplated ending it all.
The transformative power of kindness, from an Eighth-grade teacher, turned his life around, and now Shadrack Boakye is a successful motivational speaker, award-winning playwright, the youngest male recipient of Black History Month Distinguished Service Award, and CEO of The Truth Urban Theater Group, who has made it his mission to share his story of compassion and kindness with others.
During the recent assembly with Sayville students, Shadrack immediately engaged them in a demonstration of the power of “bad fruit*” (his term for negativity) by opening his presentation with an improv-style skit. A student volunteer was enlisted to act out a simple scene—pretending to make a fried egg. While using humor to “poke fun” at the volunteer student, Shadrack demonstrated how his belittling incapacitated the student so completely, that the student was unable to perform the simple task.
By extension, global atrocities that plague nations are derived from cruelty and abusive behaviors one person afflicts on another. Despite his own harrowing experiences as a victim and refugee, which he shared honestly and poignantly, Shedrack focused on the positives that life had to offer.
His message was clear: words and actions tear down the confidence of others and make them vulnerable to self-destructive behaviors. Conversely, simple acts of kindness can build up the human spirit. Enlisting the entire audience to participate in another demonstration, this one to show the power of “good fruit,” Shadrack asked each student to turn to each other and simply say Good Morning, “as if you mean it.” The positive energy that filled the auditorium with just the genuine exchange of greetings was indeed impressive, and that good feeling stayed with the Sayville students throughout the rest of their day.
The overall response to Shadrack Boakye’s life-affirming story was extremely positive and memorable for both Sayville students and staff. His visit was made possible through the generosity of “The Neighborhood House of Sayville,” created to address the epidemic of people dying by suicide or drug overdose, and the absence of hope that is permeating our society.
* From the website: The word FRUIT has a metaphorical meaning that is the heart of theme in Shadrack’s play. F: Fascination, R: Ruthless, U: Unbalanced, I: Infection and T: Triumph