“Optimism is vital when aiming for success in all stages of our life!”
That’s just one of the takeaways Sterling High School student Brynn Abernathy took from SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge. You could say another takeaway from reading the book was an iPad Air. That’s what the freshman won in the fourth annual essay contest held by Jackson Insurance Agency in Sterling, Colo.
Says owner Rick Jackson: “SUCCESS for Teens is such powerful material for our young people at a very impressionable time in their lives, and we are proud to be a part of that.”
The first time we wrote about Jackson, he was persuading more schools to take part in the program, and today—with help from the SUCCESS Foundation—he is reaching more students than ever. (The foundation donates hard copies of the book to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs; SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and facilitator’s guide to everyone.) “We continue to coordinate with school counselors and work to put materials in more of the outlying schools,” Jackson says.
His agency distributes SUCCESS for Teens, the keystone of the SUCCESS for Teens personal-development curriculum, to five area schools and asks students to read it and submit essays about what they learned. Three finalists were chosen from among 350 submissions, and Abernathy’s composition took the top prize.
In her essay, Abernathy discussed key points that hit home for her, such as “simple decisions can alter our future for the better in huge ways” and “the attitude you have going into a situation will strongly affect the outcome of that situation. [The book gives] you directions that will help you live your dreams and obtain any amount of success you wish to reach. I will continue to follow the advice within the book in order to push myself to reach my highest potential.”
Jackson was inspired to start the contest after reading a SUCCESS magazine article about how SUCCESS for Teens had influenced kids around the country. Since then, he and his team have been working to enhance the way the program is implemented.
Jackson is making an extra effort this year to connect with the parents of participating students. “We were surprised to find the parents of the first two iPad winners were not aware of what their kids were participating in until we called with the good news,” he says. “Now we ask that parents sign the Message to Parents page in the preface of the book. It opens one more opportunity for positive communication and parental encouragement.”
For the foreseeable future, Jackson plans to continue the contest and adds that it’s also a boon for his team at work. “Everyone in our office takes part in judging the essays,” he says. “The discussions we have in choosing a winner improve communication and camaraderie within our own team. It’s a win-win!”
To request books, learn about the program, share your story about it or make a contribution, visit SUCCESSFoundation.org. Leaders, participants and donors can request a profile in SUCCESS by emailing [email protected].
This article appears in the January 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.