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Exclusive interview with Nick Vujicic : Future Leaders Conquer New Heights

Nick Vujicic Youth Leadership Retreat

By Cassandra Hsiao

It’s happening all around the world especially among the young people. We hear about it everyday in the news – bullying, lying, stealing, dishonesty, etc. It all sums up into three words: crisis of character. Our generation’s future lies with the young leaders. Where can teenagers learn about all the aspects of leadership?

At Nick Vujicic’s youth leadership retreat, of course!

Nick Vujicic is an international motivational speaker. He was born without limbs and leads a ridiculously great life. His organization, Attitude is Altitude, planned the entire retreat, which lasted from Friday , May 4, to Sunday, May 6, 2012, located at Camp Whittier, a 55 acre resident camp hidden in the woodlands. The camp was especially designed for kids in grades 6-8, with fifty participants in all.

“The idea for this retreat was sparked by the desire to touch the lives of youth by interacting with them in a format that was more involved than a 60-minute talk,” described Daniela Munther, the director of the camp. She also contributed her effort and creativity by preparing the camp’s curriculum. “We wanted to offer an experience that equipped students with more life and leadership tools as well as more time with Nick.”

The three-day retreat consisted of a full day high and low ropes course, workshops, sessions, discussions, and fun-filled, challenging games and activities. The five different presentations challenged campers to think deeper about the meaning of leadership, find their identity as leaders, step out of their comfort zone, experience breakthroughs, and demonstrate character in their daily life.

“I’m just really excited to see all the activities effectively enforcing the importance of servant leaders, being a follower or a leader, and teamwork as well,” Nick said.  “Courage is also important. Half the kids here don’t want to do the high ropes. It’s pretty scary, doing something you’ve never done before, to actually stretch the limit a little bit. I want to let them know that they can accomplish more than they think they can if they give it a shot.”

Many of the campers agreed that the ropes course took them to whole new heights (literally).

“It was challenging but it was very fun,” said camper Grace Wu, age 13. “Even though there were some times when I wanted to get down as soon as possible, I pushed myself to the end and I’m glad I did, because the experience was amazing.”

Along with the flexibility of roles and courage in leadership, there are many other characteristics of a leader.

“First of all, it’s honesty. That goes hand-in-hand with integrity. As leaders, we need to be authentic. We need to be real. We want to make a difference in people’s lives. You have to have integrity, and you can’t be fake,” Nick reflected.

At the camp, teasing, even just for fun, was strictly prohibited.

“We have to respect ourselves in the right way, and then once you’ve learned how to respect yourself as a human being, then and only then you can love someone else. I asked some teenagers, ‘What if no one ever teased you? Would you ever bully anyone else?’ They said straight away, ‘Nope. If no one teased me, why would I tease anyone else?’ People tease because someone teases them.”

Nick’s reinforcement of no teasing set a safe and upbeat atmosphere in camp. In fact, the camp was such a big success that Altitude is Attitude might organize an international camp next year. Both counselors and campers can’t wait for the next camp! Everyone took away priceless experiences from camp.

“I really loved camp! I feel like I grew as a leader as much as the campers did,” exclaimed Alexa Valadez, one of the eight counselors. “There were a lot of challenges for me as well, for example, recognizing when to step back as a person in charge and letting the campers take control. It was really rewarding to see them turn into leaders.”

The campers also talked about their lessons learned.

“One part that stood out to me was when I learned that we had to be a serving leader and that we have to be open to their ideas,” said camper Carolyn Lee, age 13.

“The best part was learning more about how to become a better leader. Each person has their own individual talents and gifts that they can use in a shared leadership,” said camper Grace Wu. “Everyone can then pull together and they can form a good team.”

Daniela Munther (director) explained that young leaders are not just leaders of tomorrow, but also leaders of today.

“Not to train them up in leadership skills would be to rob our society of leaders.  And without leaders, we rob our society of something grand and invaluable – change!” Daniela emphasized. “It is important for young people to become leaders so that they can become catalysts for positive change in our world. Without their contribution, little will ever be accomplished.”

According to Nick Vujicic, the power of multiplication is priceless.

“We can actually be the difference. We all have a purpose in this world. We can make it a better place and it starts with us.”

Published @



From No Limbs to No Limits

Nick Vujicic shares his advice for overcoming bullying and the bullying epidemic

Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs. He overcame his disability and now at 28 years old is an international motivational speaker. He speaks to millions of people, both in person and through his books. His latest book, Life Without Limits, has a powerful message of building a life of fulfillment and happiness.

Vujicic always has a smile on his face. But when he was a kid he struggled with self-esteem issues. He prayed a lot and wondered why he was different from other kids. His family and friends encouraged him and helped him overcome his obstacles.

“If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I would not have been here,” Vujicic told the Kids Press Corps in early October. “They were the ones who believed in me and loved me. They told me that God has a plan for me.”

Even so, Vujicic still had to deal with depression, loneliness, and bullying. People mocked him for being different.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and Vujicic knows the harm bullying can do. Bullying was the main reason why Vujicic tried to commit suicide when he was ten by drowning himself in a bathtub.

“A lot of people don’t understand that bullying is a major problem,” Vujicic said. “There are people dying. And if people don’t commit suicide, they’re still dead on the inside.”

Many bullies torment others, he said, because they have low self-esteem and are insecure. Like the people they bully, they don’t know who they’re supposed to be, either. The only thing that makes them feel like they have self-worth is pushing other people around.

“It’s very cowardly to tease,” continued Vujicic. “It’s scary. It’s hard to stop.”

But it’s not impossible.

Confronting bullying can be a difficult and scary thing. But Vujicic said that taking life one day at a time is the best path forward. It’s going to get better.

He conquered his battles by coming back to the truth of who he is.

“I know that my value is not determined by how I look, what I can’t do, or how many friends I have,” he said. “I’m Nick Vujicic and there’s not another Nick Vujicic out there.”

Today, he works to help others find their own personal truths and overcome bullying — whatever form it takes.

Visit his webiste for more information about Vujicic and his campaign to end the bullying epidemic

First Published @Scholastic Inc,

Gimme a Hug!

Man After God’s Own Heart

“Don’t forget to introduce yourself, give him a hug, introduce us, and take a family picture with him!” A sharp voice snapped me back to the present. My mom frantically paced back and forth in front of me. I was anxious and worried, but my mom was probably even more nervous than I was. My family and I were waiting in a cold, air-conditioned room for Nick Vujicic, to arrive. The limbless, limitless man has been the inspiration to millions of people, and now I would finally be able to meet him! The thought of meeting such a God-honoring man gave me shivers of excitement.

Finally, the door opened. A high wheelchair rolled into the room, and the sight of this handsome young man overwhelmed me. I stepped forward and breathlessly introduced myself, my parents and my brother. One of his favorite ice breaker was “Gimme a hug.” So all of us gave him a hug, and it was a unique warm, touched feeling that I will never forget. I wanted to cry, laugh, and tell the world that I had just hugged Nick Vujicic!

The nervous, panicky atmosphere had disappeared in a flash. His smile lightened up the entire room as we made introductions. Just as I was about to launch into the interview, Nick told me to pause.

“Let me tell you something really cool. If you prayed before the interview, it’ll really make sure that there are no technical difficulties,” he said. “Lord Jesus, we thank you for Cassandra. We thank you for the team. We thank you Lord that your presence is here and that you have touched so many people. Let there be no technical difficulties and bless Cassandra’s heart. May you encourage her and let others be encouraged. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Wow, he really is a man after God’s own heart, I thought, impressed and amazed. The interview started, and I couldn’t look away. His eyes were a mesmerizing sea of blue, and he never let his intense gaze leave my eyes. I felt like I could tell him anything in the world, and I totally forgot about the other people in the room. I soaked up every single word he said. When Nick told me that he had tried to suicide when he was ten, I almost cried. I tried to remain objective as a reporter, but it took a lot of effort to hold my tears in.

He was so sincere, genuine, and humble. I told him that he had been my hero since the 3rd grade, and his first reaction was to be surprised. “Are you serious?” he grinned, although I’m pretty sure millions of others have told him that he was their hero. He said, “Gimme a hug.” This was the second time I got to hug him. :)

Nick also was very considerate. He invited Jeremy into the picture – just a photo of the two of them. Nick made Jeremy feel so much more than just a tag-along sibling on a sister’s big assignment. Jeremy was on cloud nine!

Nick also offered to sign my book before I even asked him.  I was touched that he put so much thought into his little letter. It read,

Little did he know that I did Dream Big because I was with him! 

I  reflected on what he had said as he signed my book. He showed me that we can learn to accept what we can’t control and focus instead on what we can control. If a limbless man could live out such an extraordinary fulfilling life, why couldn’t I? I also learned the secret to his inner joy – knowing that God is always with him and has a purpose for his life. Nick knows where he’s going: to heaven, where there is no pain and suffering.

“The cool thing is that there is one thing better than going to heaven,” he said. “It’s to stay here today and bring one more person with us to heaven.”

We all took a family picture with him . I couldn’t believe what I just experienced! This was my most heart-warming, uplifting, inspiring night that I will never forget! Thank you Jesus for letting me to have cross paths with Nick Vujicic so that I will have faith to build a rewarding and productive life without limits.

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