"Say yes to something positive," participants in the Utah Federation for Drug-Free Youth conference were told by the keynote speaker Friday afternoon.
Building on a theme of "Just Say No to Drugs," Dan Clark gave students and adults some slogans to help them overcome negative aspects in their lives.Clark said success is relative to the moment and challenged the youth to be the best they can be right now.
In a largely anecdotal talk, interspersed with two songs he wrote, Clark told the nearly full house at Symphony Hall, "You can if you think you can." He then related his own experience in overcoming a paralysis in his left arm caused by a football injury. Visits to 16 different doctors had left him with little hope he would ever use his arm again, Clark said. But after hearing a motivational tape by Zig Zigler, he set out to prove the doctors wrong. He now has full use of his arm.
Clark told conference participants that commitment and courage are essential to combating a national drug problem. "Just saying no isn't enough we have to decide to say no," he added.
"Get up and go again," Clark said, is one phrase that can help young people change their lives. He used Mary Lou Retton as an example of someone who applied that motto. Her perfect score in vaulting at the 1984 Olympics came through practice, he said.
When Retton was 8, she fell 22 consecutive times while trying to learn a simple routine, Clark said, but each time she got up and tried again.
Too many people would have quit on the fifth, 10th or even 21st attempt. "We talk ourselves right out of making our dreams come true," he said.
Clark also urged students to become aware of their potential. He said in talking with students at an Iowa high school recently, where 100 suicide attempts had been made in as many days, he discovered that most of the students had lost sight of their potential.
He told students at the conference they have no right to end it all. He paid tribute to his father, 67, who was in the audience and has been battling cancer. He deals with the pain and works as hard as he can and fights to live one more day, Clark said of his father.
Another key to being successful in fighting drugs is service, Clark explained. He encouraged conference participants to "be the kind of person you need to be," and then help their friends who are having problems.
Clark said, "We are winning the war on drugs." The young people, not police officers or politicians, will be the ones to solve the national drug problem, he added.