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10-31-02: Fort Recovery pupils respond with 'I do'
Speaker tries to help children make right choices in their lives

FORT RECOVERY - Who has the power? Who has the control? Who makes the choices?
    "I do, I do, I do" shouted a couple hundred elementary students earlier this week as motivational speaker Michael Thomson brought a high-energy message to Fort Recovery Local Schools.
    Visiting the school in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week, Ohio schools' big push to educate students about the dangers of drugs, tobacco and alcohol, Thomson brought home that message as well as a raft of life skills all beginning close to home.
    "Hold out you left hand, now your right. Say good choices; say poor choices. Then put your hand behind your head, wiggle your fingers and say my choice," Thomson directed his audience as he put action to word as he's done for more than a million kids worldwide.
    The wiggling fingers perched on heads are what Thomson described as choice detectors.
    "And each one of you guys is faced with choices all day every day. Will you eat breakfast? Will you listen to your teacher? Will you do your homework?" he asked fingers wiggling wildly at the variety of choices.
    Some choices, such as getting homework done on time or straightening up your room without being told, can get parents and teachers off a kid's back, he said. Those are good choices.
    Not accepting those responsibilities are poor choices, he added.
    "If you make poor choices, does that mean you're a bad kid. No. It's means you're a kid who made poor choices this time," said Thomson, a former supervisor of psychology and psychiatry in areas of rehabilitation and therapy with the Mayo Clinic as well as an adjunct professor with The Ohio State University and Ashland University.
    Who has the power, who has the control and what are the choices are three of Thomson's Six Critical Questions that he feels kids and adults need to understand to become more productive. The other three questions people need to ask, especially in dealing with demanding situations, are who owns the problem, who owns the responsibility and who made the decisions.
    "You may have noticed I need to lose some weight. I know it, too, and I could give you a lot of reasons why I can't lose weight, outside reasons beyond my control," he told The Daily Standard after the session with the children.
    However, he said his weight problem is not the fault of the cook or that he's on the road a lot. "I own this problem. I am responsible and I make the decisions about what food I eat. It's that simple," he said.
    This reasoning translates to all areas of life, he said.
    Thomson recalled the time he made his presentation to prison inmates a few years ago. One 18-year-old convict came up to him afterward and complained one big reason why he was in jail now was because when he was 3 years old his father left home.
    "He blamed his father for his problems. But is the father responsible? No. Does the father own this problem? No. Did the father make the decisions that landed this kid in the crossbar hotel? No," Thomson said.
    Later in the day he made other presentations in Fort Recovery tailored for older students, for teachers and that evening for parents.


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