Mike Smith: Change Happens When No One Else Is looking

Khadega Mohammed, Reporter

On Friday Jan. 13, Mike Smith, founder of Skate for Change, or a  “professional teenager” as he calls himself, came to speak at P-CEP.

Skate for Change,  is a non profit youth movement aimed to empower skateboarders to give back to the community by giving out socks to the homeless. Smith is also the founder of the Bay, a non profit skate park located in Lincoln, NE, and is a host of the Harbor TV by Jostens.

Students packed into the Canton gym, not knowing what was in store for them. Mike Smith was then introduced with a remix of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air intro song as the students jammed along. He came onto the main floor and the first thing he said was, “I am not a motivational speaker.”  Smith explained that he was not there to tell the students how to live their lives, but rather he was there to tell his life story and how his journey all began.

Smith moved the audience with inspiration and laughter. Smith was a varsity athlete all throughout high school, but in his senior year, he realized that life is bigger than that. He was starting to become way too full of himself and did not treat everyone well. His mother was not happy with him, and his father was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to change and make his parents proud of him and the man he would become.

One message that Smith repeated throughout the assembly was “Change happens when no one else is looking.” Smith later elaborated more on what it takes to bring change during an interview with The Perspective. “You have to be relentless about doing, there is no shortcut to making a difference. We always say we are ‘busy’, but it is amazing how much time we spend on our phones and computers. You’ve got to realize when you are not ‘doing’,” said Smith.

Smith expressed his passion for speaking with students all across the nation. “I genuinely do care. I still remember what it feels like to have a person from an outside world; not your teacher, not your parent, not your coach, step into your life and offer advice, conversations, or stories,” said Smith. “For kids to come up to me when I know how that feels, I’m genuinely interested in helping this next generation.”

Smith wants for students from schools all across America to come together and support one another to truly have a unified school spirit. “You have to start showing up for each other first. Kids keep score; if you show up, it builds that trust, but someone needs to show up first.”

Smith finished off with a message encouraging leadership within schools. “The more we can let everyone know how valuable they are, get creative, and have fun along the way, the better we will all be,” he said.