From Feeling Small to Making a Big Difference: Jon Pritikin Leaves GLSD Students Speechless And In Tears


Ryan Young, Editor-In-Chief

As a young boy Jon Pritikin was ridiculed, bullied and mocked because of an uncontrollable speech impediment. Today, Pritikin speaks with clarity and confidence about his devastating childhood and how he overcame feelings of inadequacy and despair. Pritikin pours out his heart to millions of students because he hopes the message of kindness and love will blossom in schools around the world. GLSD students were blessed by his recent visit.

Pritikin used feats of strength to break through the haze of teenagers on Monday March 25, in Latrobe. From rolling a frying pan with his bare hands, to bending a steel bar with his teeth, Pritikin captivated the audience right from the start.

After capturing our attention, Pritikin shared his life story and his difficulties as a young boy growing up. He shared tragic tales of a cruel teacher who publicly humiliated him, and a devastating day where older boys chased him down, tripped him, and left him bleeding in the hallway with a head injury. He talked about eating by himself at lunch, about feeling unintelligent, about being alone in a world that pointed fingers and laughed at the young boy who only wanted acceptance and friendship.

“I was totally timid,” Pritikin said. “I still to this day have my stutter. I shut down at times when it happens, so if I start to stutter I stop talking. It’s like walking with a limp. You always are struggling but you know you can’t give up. I also realize everyone walks with a limp, everyone has something and if they say they don’t, don’t trust them.”

Pritikin’s message showed that no matter what circumstance or difficulty you face, you can find peace and accomplish anything you set your heart and mind to if you choose to keep fighting and never give up.

“Be kind to people. You are all special and you have the potential to do whatever you want to do,” said Pritikin.

While Pritikin doesn’t impose his own beliefs on others, he credits his faith in Jesus for helping him overcome the trials in his life.

“Faith has been a big part of who I am and all that,” Pritikin said. “For me it’s a big part. I do have a limp, but I rely on my faith to keep me. It’s the thing that helps me get through.”

Pritikin’s powerful message of perseverance was brought to GLSD through math teacher Matt Snyder.

“He spoke at the youth group at the church that I go to and my kids go to,” Snyder said. “So he spoke there a couple times, and my wife was actually instrumental in getting him to go to Derry which is where my kids go, and he was very well received. Last year after we had our speaker, I went to Mr. Mains because I know they try to rotate them, and I told him if you’re looking for somebody, I have heard this speaker and he is very good and I think he would be well received here.”

Students of all grade levels were inspired and deeply moved by Jon Pritikin.  Many students were brought to tears and about 40 students remained afterward to thank and speak one-on-one with Pritikin.

“He had the empathy and ability to relate to others,” senior Kate Suzuki said. “By creating a bond with those he spoke to, he was able to touch every single person’s lives and encourage them to move past their own hardship.”

Another senior, Bo Ruffner, expressed his thoughts on the speaker, “I thought he was very inspirational. It shows that no matter how hard things can be, if you push past the difficulties, it will make you better.”

Jon Pritikin’s organization Feel The Power, has impacted the lives of over 8 million people by sharing the story of a young boy who turned to faith, fought back against the hardships in his life, and never gave up.