WESTFIELD – David Kohout knows what teenagers and young adults may be going through during their time in high school.
He’s been picked on, had low grades and experienced abuse at home.
But he was able to persevere and overcome those challenges to become a successful adult.
Kohout, a motivational speaker who founded the organization Talk is Cheap based out of Youngstown, Ohio, recently told his story to high school students at Westfield Academy and Central School. Kohout also spoke at the Lakeshore Assembly of God Church in Westfield.
“His number one hobby is making a difference that will matter and last,” high school principal Ivana Hite told the students prior to the assembly. “David likes to remind every student that they are not an accident, and they are not a mistake.”
With his high school transcript – along with a 1.68 GPA – projected onto a screen behind him, Kohout told the students how classmates would mess with his head in school, how his father would beat him due to stress and how he has taken many things for granted in life.
“I don’t know who you are, but there are probably people sitting here not wanting to be here,” Kohout said. “Some of you in this room don’t have a clue how blessed you are. There’s not a dumb kid in this assembly this morning. There are some foolish choosers, but no dumb kids.”
Kohout said life comes with risk, and he told the students they had no idea if someone sitting in the school’s auditorium could be the person who cures cancer. He also urged the students not to quite even if the challenges seemed too daunting to overcome.
“You better be careful how you treat people because we reap what we sow,” Kohout said. “The difference between better and bitter is one letter – ‘I.’ I choose to be better.”
Kohout said the spirit of apathy has grown larger than ever, adding children, teenagers and adults watch murders and death on television on now think nothing of it and have no response to what they witnessed. He also urged the students to practice making good choices which will positively impact their lives.
“Practice does not make perfect,” Kohout said, “practice makes permanent.”
To close his presentation, Kohout talked about a teen he knew while he was involved with his church’s youth group. He said he didn’t particularly care for the teen, and told how he would break a number of rules.
The teen later developed cancer, and Kohout told the assembly about how the teen’s best friend shaved his head so his friend wouldn’t feel left out. Then, when talking to the teen after finding out the individual only had a few days to live, Kohout said he was struck by a piece of advice the young man had for him: you never know who someone is going to be.
It was then, Kohout said, that he realized even people he may not particularly care for have great potential.
“You never know who that kid you ignore may be,” Kohout said.
Kohout urged the students not to quit.
“You’re not a mistake. You have value,” he said. “Some of you are making stupid choices. I’m asking you to reconsider.”
David Kohout, a motivational speaker from Youngstown, Ohio, speaks to high school students at Westfield Academy and Central School.