The Power of Belonging Ripples through Schools in Bartholomew County

Reunited again!

Nathan Harmon returned to Columbus for a second time and spoke at 8 different schools as part of the school speakers series for the Youth Empowerment Summit

Nathan Harmon is an international speaker and the founder of Your Life Speaks. Nathan's message comes from a combination of a troubled past and a great desire to help others overcome many of his same struggles. In his younger years, Nathan battled divorced parents, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, alcohol and drug addictions, bulimia and eventually jail. 

At the schools last year, you could feel the energy in the room as Nathan connected with countless students - which is exactly why we wanted to bring him back for year two.


He spoke to all 7th-9th graders at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation, St. Bartholomew Catholic School, and St. Peter’s Lutheran School.

“I Belong, You belong, we belong”

Nathan connected his personal story and message with our summit’s 2019 theme, the Power of Belonging.

He addressed the importance of Developmental Assets building for all young people in order to create a supportive environment where all feel a sense of belonging. His powerful message also connected to youth empowerment by reminding students to take control of their path to success. Nathan emphasized his Five Habits of the Heart and Mind which he attributes to his own success. Nathan’s Five Habits are:

  • Transparency

  • Accountability

  • Working hard

  • Making good choices

  • Valuing People

Nathan truly lives out these five habits day-to-day. He also puts such a special emphasis on connecting with young people which is why he was such an essential part of this year’s summit.

Check out Nathan’s interview with a high school member of our CYD Youth Media Team:

Interview with Nathan Harmon at school assemblies. Interview & video production by CYD Youth Media Team / CNHS Media Team

In the spare moments Nathan had at Central Middle school, he took the time to sit down with their student media team to be interviewed and even played a round of Rock’em Sock’em Robots. CSA, Columbus North, and Columbus East also all had student media groups conduct interviews with Nathan.


A School-wide effort

Many of the schools that Nathan spoke at took the opportunity to really make it more than an hour-long presentation. Effort was put in before and after to ensure that the Power of Belonging would stay with students even after Nathan left.

Leading up to the event at Hauser, Student leadership organized and planned the assembly. Student leader, Elijah, had this to say about the experience: 

“Nathan Harmon helped us as a leadership team further connect to students, allow more students to see belonging as an option, and teach others how to surround themselves with the right people. These lessons are unforgettable. These lessons will further our ability to serve our school and community in promoting and empowering youth and belonging.” - Elijah Heslop

Hauser’s student leadership team with Nathan

Hauser’s student leadership team with Nathan

At Northside Middle School and Central Middle School, teachers planned a debriefing for students on Developmental Assets category Positive Identity and the Power of Belonging with students.

The debriefing came from resources in their Developmental Assets library. Teachers were able to choose which activity they wanted to facilitate based on their comfort level.


“The assembly covered some pretty heavy topics so allowing teachers and students multiple means of expression increases engagement and allowed all students and opportunity to debrief on a level they could handle.” - Erin Wagner, Guidance Counselor

Power of Belonging naturally ripples out in meaningful ways

When Columbus North High School saw the incorporation of “I Belong”  throughout the community, they decided to get involved and make it their homecoming theme

Students were encouraged to wear blue to emphasize the inclusion of every student in the building.

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Katie Schmidt, an English New Language (ENL) teacher at North loved the emphasis of “I Belong” at the school and wanted to make sure to get her students involved.

“ENL Students learned the word ‘belong’ and we discussed that we wear blue because we belong here at North. Then, we made plans to wear colors another day that showed where else we belong and why. Students wore their special colors, made posters, took pictures outside, and enjoyed some team-building activities.” - Katie Schmidt, ENL teacher

Even two weeks after the summit and Nathan being at the schools, the Power of Belonging is still rippling out. It’s never too late to start the conversation about the power of belonging. In fact, we think the conversation is just starting in our community. Be sure to share your innovative ideas, projects, and initiatives you are doing with young people at home or in the community. #cydyouthsummit

Stay tuned for more highlights of the summit!