How do you hold an anti-bullying rally without speaking about bullies? Ask Josh Drean.
According to his website, Drean is not only a nationally acclaimed youth speaker, but also a master of ceremonies, beatboxer, street performer, husband and father.
Using his skills as a beatboxer and his experiences as a mascot at Brigham Young University, Drean engaged the students at Whitehouse Junior High School Thursday, Oct. 2. He spoke during two assemblies, one for each grade, outlining his message using the rules he learned as Cosmo the Cougar at BYU.
If Drean had not stated, “Full disclosure here, this is an anti-bullying assembly, if you will,” the students may not have connected his speech to that topic.
“When we focus on the negatives, the results are negative, but when we focus on the positive, the results are positive,” Drean said, siting his studies in psychology.
The three main ideas Drean communicated were “keep your head,” “know your audience,” and “be the hero.” Drean called four volunteers from the students assembled to don pieces of mascot costuming and demonstrate the points of his speech through role-playing.
While a mascot must literally keep his head on, Drean related that figuratively to developing resiliency in life. “You can sit down and give up, you can play the victim card,” Drean stated, “or, you can say, maybe I can learn from this.”
“Every time you go through something hard, it’s a chance for you to learn skills that you will use, not just here at school, but for the rest of your life. A great way that you can develop resiliency is to find your because,” Drean told the audience.
“Find what you love to do and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. There’s always going to be haters in your life. Why are we spending so much time trying to please them and not spending that time trying to find out who we truly are? Find who you are. Own your because,” Drean stressed.
“Know your audience,” Drean said, “is all about empathy.” He then related the story how his brother had been a cheerleader throughout junior high and high school. When they both moved to college, Drean said he was “so excited for his brother” when he saw a flyer for cheer tryouts on campus. Unfortunately, Drean’s younger sibling had decided he wasn’t going to try out because “he was tired of being made fun of.”
Drean pointed out that negativity online is often ignored or downplayed, but has an impact on people. Comments on social media had lead to his brother’s willingness to quit what he had loved for so long.
Drean asked the students, “Is who you are online the same as who you are in person?”
Dean and his brother struck a deal and both tried out for the cheer team together. When Drean made the squad along with his brother and people began treating him differently, he realized two things. He hadn’t “been very supportive” and his brother just wanted “empathy.”
Concluding his speech, Drean said, “each and every one of you gets an opportunity to be a hero because there is only one you and you get to choose the ideal that you stand for. A great way to be a hero is to make sure your behavior is in line with the standards, the ideals and the values of your school, of your family, of your friends. When you do that, you represent something much bigger than just you.”
Though living in Boston and pursuing a master’s degree in business management, Drean says he presents his message “to about 150 schools a year, speaking all over the country and in Canada.” The idea to become an inspirational speaker came about through “being the mascot.”
“As a mascot, we would go into schools and do assemblies. Usually, it was a football player getting up and sharing a quick message. It was cheerleaders cheering and then I would come out and do some flips. The kids got so excited but then we just left,” Drean recalled.
“I thought these kids are looking to us for inspiration and we’re not teaching them or inspiring them,” he said. From that he decided to start speaking.
“What you’re asking the schools to do, give an hour of their time away from curriculum, is a big deal,” Drean says, “so every day I’m just trying to improve my presentation to be worth it for the schools.”
Having an 18-month old son, Drean says he tries “to find the balance between being on the road and speaking at schools and being at home.” At the same time, Drean says being a father makes him more passionate about sharing his message because he will “sometime see my son in the future up here listening. I’m just hoping I would say something or do something that would help him with his journey.”
The junior high also held a meeting for parents where Drean “gave parents a summary of his speech to the students”, according to Principal Joshua Garred.
Garred said the majority of the presentation to parents was about “social media, recognizing apps students are using, especially those that can be used anonymously, and different ways to monitor children on social media.” He also stated the issue of “trust and control” in regards to student use of social media was also discussed.
According to Garred, feedback from students, teachers and parents was positive. When asked if Drean was someone the school would consider bringing back in the future, Garred said that it might not happen next year, but they may invite Drean “the following year when we have a whole new set of kids.”