By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
CED Mental Health hosted a Youth Prevention Conference at Gadsden City High School on March 14. Students in ninth and tenth grades were bussed to GCHS from surrounding Etowah County schools.
At the conference, motivational speaker and hypnotist Patrick Grady of Wahoo, Fla. spoke to the students.
The theme for the conference was “Life is defined by the choices you make, so make the right ones.” Grady began by de-monstrating the theme with two tales. The first tale was the story of Wilma Rudolph.
Rudolph was born premature as the 20th child of 22 children to a poor black family. Her childhood was full of illness, and at a young age she was crippled by polio. She was told she would never walk again, but Rudolph worked hard to walk again. Although she walked with a limp, Rudolph joined the track team and at first lost race after race. Determined, Rudolph continued training and, as a result, began winning her races. Eventually, Rudolph was offered a full scholarship to Tennessee State Uni-versity. In 1960, Rudolph competed in the Olympic Games and won three gold medals and breaking world records.
Grady said that it was her choices to keep working hard that led her to success despite all of the obstacles that faced her. In contrast, Grady told the tale of one of his high school friends known as Big John. Big John ended up drunk at a party and drove, resulting in a terrible headfirst wreck.
Big John was killed by a fire that started from the crash. To further demonstrate why the students needed to make good decisions, he quoted statistics of how many people die from bad decisions such as smoking, drinking and drugs daily, while pouring ball bearings, one for each death, into a container. Students could hear the ball bearings ping as they fell into the container.
For the second portion of the event, Grady hypnotized some of the students.
“Some people believe it’s voodoo or black magic or mind control, but it’s not,” said Grady. “It’s just relaxation techniques. I cannot control your mind, and I cannot make you do something you don’t want to do.”
Grady selected about 20 student volunteers from the crowd and told students that weren’t selected that they could try to follow along from the bleachers if they wanted to. Then, Grady dimmed the lights, played relaxing music and led students through relaxation exercises for about 10 minutes.
Afterwards, Grady used the power of suggestion to convince the hypnotized students that they were cold. The students pulled jackets closer, rubbed their arms, and one student even pulled up his jacket’s hood. Then, he convinced the students it was hot. Students removed jackets and drank from non-existent water bottles. One hypnotized student in the bleachers, Justin McCarter, attempted to remove his shirt. Grady led him down to sit with the volunteers.
Grady led the hypnotized students through several amusing scenarios. Students copied the movements of a stuffed monkey, danced like ballerinas, reacted with excitement when they won imaginary checks for a million dollars and then hid the checks so pickpockets would not steal it. Grady convinced the hypnotized male students that they were pregnant, told them to push and then hold their babies. When Grady asked McCarter what he had, McCarter happily replied “A boy!” Grady then asked the child’s name, to which McCarter exclaimed “Justin, Junior!”
Grady used McCarter for another demonstration with the help of GCHS coach Hunter Crumpton. Grady convinced McCarter that Crumpton was his idol, Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. McCarter reacted with glee when introduced to his coach and posed for pictures with a huge smile on his face.
After the event, McCarter was perplexed, but laughing with friends. He had hazy memories of what he had done, as though it was a dream.