Brain Matters: During early adolescence, teens experience an intense period of learning and social growth. Their frontal lobes remain immature, so many struggle with impulse control and appropriate emotional reactions. At the same time, peers become a major influence over their behavior. As a result, it is the perfect time to introduce the concept of positive social support and natural highs. It could help delay the onset of substance use by encouraging the pursuit of “positive risks.”
Keynote: “A Better High”
Ideal Audience: Middle School Students
Ideal Audience Size: 100 – 5,000 depending on the venue
Length: 45 minutes
This funny yet age-appropriate presentation focuses on natural highs, emotional resilience and mental health. It has been described as the perfect combination of stand-up comedy, interactive demonstrations and inspirational stories. Matt empowers middle students to seek out positive friendships, express their feelings in productive ways and pursue healthy natural highs. During the program, he also discusses how to use emotions to be more resilient and to something great.
Like all Matt’s programs, “A Better HIgh" has specific learning objectives. Students will:
- Understand the concept of a natural high and why it is different than a chemical high.
- Be able to identify their unique natural highs and the value of using them to cope with stress.
- Understand the importance of supporting each other in positive ways and having friends who are alcohol, tobacco and drug free.
- Have fun and associate having fun with prevention in middle school.
Keynote:“ The Resilience to Rise Above”
Brain Matters: During the middle school years, research has shown there is a peak in verbal abuse. This behavior, referred to as bullying, can occur online or in person. Preventing this behavior is really about recognizing it and not enabling it to continue. This is where the concept of resilience plays a major role. Since 2011, Matt has been invited to work with military families at conferences focused on building resilience. As a result of this work, he recognized that many of the skills being taught to the military and their families can apply to middle school students. The product is a positive anti-bullying message that empowers students to have strength in the face of negativity.
Ideal Audiences: Anti-Bullying Assemblies, Conferences
Ideal Audience Size: 100-5,000
This dynamic presentation focuses on three qualities that allow teens to be more resilient: Leaning on Positive People for Support, Coping with Emotions in a Healthy Way and Having the Confidence to Rise Above. Research suggests that teens with positive social support are less likely to bully or be bullied. In addition, resilient teens have been shown to cope better with emotions and are more confident when bouncing back from adversity. This program handles a sensitive topic with the perfect combination of stand-up comedy, interactive demonstrations and inspirational stories. We must all accept that life is full of stressful life events (e.g., bullying, failure, social rejection), but we all have a choice in determining our response to the stressors.
Like all Matt’s programs, “The Resilience to Rise Above” has specific learning objectives. Students will:
- Learn about positive social support, healthy forms of self-expression and creative ways to take a stand against bullying and other social injustices. These three points were derived from the literature on youth protective factors, but are presented using Matt’s signature style:
- Lean on Positive People for Support,
- Cope with Your Emotions in a Healthy Way,
- Having the Confidence to Rise Above.
- Be able to understand the relationship between lack of social support and bullying behavior.
- Understand the ways in which emotional pain is similar to physical pain.
- Have fun, and leave feel more empowered to overcome barriers in their life.
Ideal Audiences: Student Leaders, Student Athletes
Ideal Audience Size: 50 or less
Length: 60-90 minutes
“A Better High Workshop.” This interactive discussion helps students identify their own personal natural highs. The program uses stories and humor to discuss how the brain produces the major natural highs (laughing, exercise and loving) and why it’s important to use these natural highs in times of stress. Students also get an opportunity to tell their natural high stories and win prizes. At the conclusion of the workshop, students should have a list of 3-5 natural highs to turn to when dealing with stress in their life.