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Beline Obeid

October 31, 2013
Nowadays, it seems everyone knows the name Kid President. The 10-year-old motivational speaker's most popular video, "A Pep Talk From Kid President to You," amassed more than 6 million views in just its first week online, a number that has nearly quintupled in the months since.

The idea for Kid President, whose real name is Robby Novak and who now has produced 19 videos, started with a shared belief that kids have voices worth listening to, that they, too, can empower and inspire.

It's a belief Grosse Pointe North High School teachers Jonathan Byrne and Gary Abud shared as well and who felt it needed further exploration and development.

Thus, after almost a year in the making, the two have organized the first GPNspire Talks, a one-night event modeled after TED talks, in which a dozen students from across metro Detroit will deliver speeches designed to empower and inspire.

"Gary had the original idea, and he came to me about a year and a half ago, and said, 'This is something I'd really like to do. Do you think we could pull it off?' said Byrne. "And I said, 'Sure, we can pull it off. It's just all about figuring out how.' We just wanted kids to have a chance to add their voice to the larger conversation."

"I think that's exactly why we need it," added Colleen Maher, North's student association president and emcee for the event. "I feel, especially now, I think kids don't think that they get a say and get to have their voice, and this is the opportunity to show you can do something, you can inspire someone and get your voice out there."

In essence, to have a clear and inspiring message was the only criteria for the 5-minute speeches.

And through stories of personal inspiration, larger community inspirations and calls to action, students from West Bloomfield, Fraser, Grosse Pointe and a few other schools in the tri-county area will seek to deliver such a message to their local communities and world at large.

"We wanted something that would be public," Byrne said. "This is a community event. We want to share with, not just the local community, but the entire metro Detroit community and the world that kids can do great things if given the opportunity."

With help from North's Parent Club and student association, Byrne and Abud feel they have a one-of-a-kind event that will give students that opportunity. Students agree.

"I feel like it's always a little nerve-wracking when you try something new," said Maria Liddane, student association secretary. "But, I really feel like we have a solid foundation for this, and I think it's going to turn out pretty well. I'm excited."

GPNspire Talks is at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at the Grosse Pointe Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and are available through North's website or at the door.

For more information, contact Byrne at jona


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