When the COVID-19 pandemic forced “Eskimo Ninja” and motivational speaker Nick Hanson to transition from speaking in-person before a crowd of North Slope students to a seemingly impersonal online platform, he didn’t expect the powerful personal dialogue that developed as students, one-by-one, opened up to reveal their stories, hopes and fears.
“Instead of standing in front of a gymnasium full of people it was me invited into their house, on their laptop,” said Hanson. “I felt that personal connection.”
In an effort to create more opportunities like this for Alaskan students across the state who are facing the isolation of the COVID pandemic, the Alaska Council of School Administrators was awarded $30,000 from GCI’s suicide prevention fund to help more Alaskan students connect with Hanson through this school year.
The “Tell your Story, Make your Mark” events will be offered to high school students across the state throughout this school year, with priority for those in high-risk rural school districts and collaboration efforts for schools in areas with limited infrastructure to offer offline opportunities that follow safe mitigation guidelines when possible.
Hanson uses his public platform to raise awareness about suicide prevention, sharing his journey of discovering physical strength, peace, and self-acceptance. Born and raised in Unalakleet, Alaska, Hanson lost friends, teammates and classmates from suicide and went through a dark struggle before fatefully finding inspiration and strength through tests of physical endurance. Inspired by physical challenges rooted in the traditional subsistence lifestyle of his Inupiaq heritage, his accomplishments ultimately earned him a spot on the Ninja Warrior television series.
Since then, his very personal, hands-on approach with students earned him statewide recognition as a role model for overcoming adversity in the harshest environments.
Outreach to schools will begin in October.
For details on the program or more information contact the Alaska Council of School Administrators at: www.acsaalaska.org / (907)586-9702.