Guest speaker to talk about bullying, social media, suicide prevention

  • Nick Celario / The Garden Island
    Public speaker Jerry Ackerman stops for a photo Tuesday in Lihue.

WAIMEA — Local nonprofit The W of Kauai will host an engagement at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Historic Waimea Theater.

The event features public speaker Jerry Ackerman. It is free and is open to the public.

“I reached out to this gentleman three years ago to try to speak at our summer camps, but our schedules didn’t work out,” said Josh Burton, president of The W of Kauai. “Then about two months ago, his booking agent reached out to me and said, ‘He has time. Do you want to try and work something out?’”

The W of Kauai has hosted several youth sports camps on Kauai.

The speaking engagement is geared for youth and parents. Topics that Ackerman will be talking about include bullying, social media, leadership development and suicide prevention and awareness.

Burton wants to expand outside of sports camps to further help the communities.

He also feels the need to do what he can because he has children in high school.

“I have lots of friends that have kids that are still in elementary up to high school. They expressed that they’re having issues with bullying,” Burton said. “I really want to do something about it and help in any way I can. I think it starts with educating, not only kids but even parents and staff at the schools.”

Ackerman, of Indianapolis, has been a public speaker for 16 years. He is also a youth pastor and was for a short time a seventh-grade teacher on Oahu’s North Shore.

“Speaking to elementary school kids is different from speaking to parents,” Ackerman said. “I call it ‘edutainment,’ a cross between education and entertainment. You’ve got to be a bit of that to keep their attention. My hope is that when I’m in there for 45 minutes to an hour, they don’t know where the time went and that they wish they can do it a little bit longer.”

He added: “I just lay out the truth. When we do this, I’ll go down the laundry list of social media stuff that kids are on. I lay it out, and most of them have no idea what’s going on there. I talk about bullying, but that’s one of the issues. Social media has assisted in bullying being what it is today.”

Ackerman will also be speaking at several schools on Kauai’s Westside and will be at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Thursday.

Ackerman especially encourages parents to attend Thursday’s event at the Waimea Theater.

“Parents, they owe it to themselves and their families to come out to Waimea on Thursday night. Not because I’m so great, but because they need to hear this information,” he said. “They might possibly be fearful of what I’m going to say, and fear is a motivator so that’s a good thing. They’re going to hear some things that might just shock them as far as what their kids are doing, what they’re up to and what’s out there. If nothing else, I want parents to come so that they can go home and have a conversation with their kids. That’s what I hope.”

At the Waimea Theater, The W of Kauai will be accepting donations of canned goods at the door.

“We’re going to find either an organization or something that can use it during the holiday season to donate to families in need, veterans or something,” Burton said.

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Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

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