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Former NFL Safety Shares Positive Message With Students

Former NFL safety Shamiel Gary speaks with a small group of students at Beaty-Warren Middle School. Photo by Brian Ferry

WARREN, Pa. — When Shamiel Gary was playing safety for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, he was about Game Time Excellence.

Now, Game Time Excellence is part of his motivational message.

This week, Gary returned to the Warren County School District to share that message with students.

“Shamiel has a profound way of communicating how his life experiences and time in the NFL influence his abilities to work harder, stay focused, have self-awareness, and self-accountability,” Director of Pupil Services Dr. Patricia Mead said. “He captivates his audiences with his passion for Game Time Excellence. He motivates individuals to be great, to achieve their fullest potential, and never diminish your self-worth while keeping end goals in mind.”

He met with large groups, small groups, and even individuals this week.

“In the breakout small group sessions, Shamiel engages students in activities of mindfulness to improve focus and attention to the meaningful aspects of life — like school, healthy relationships, holding oneself accountable, reinforcing the need to enjoy every moment, and giving a 100 percent effort,” Mead said. “Shamiel challenges students to respect themselves, think about their mindset, and focus on daily habits for growth mindset to bridge the gap from where they are today with where they want to be.”

During one session, Gary said his words are only as helpful as the mindset they fall on.

“Someone could have all the great advice… but you have to be open to it,” he said.

“I’m all about choices,” he said. “The choice is yours. No one can make you change your attitude.”

“Every choice you make is going to either lead you to success or it’s going to hurt you,” Gary said.

Gary has visited Warren before, Mead said, spending a half-day in each school with assemblies, classroom visits, and breakout sessions in February 2020.

“Students, teachers, and parents shared positive input and expressed gratitude to the district for arranging Shamiel,” she said. “So, we brought him back providing each school with the opportunity to re-experience Game Time Excellence with Shamiel Gary.”

“Our world, and local community, is suffering from an increase in youth suffering from feelings of sadness and hopelessness,” Mead said. “The district and community providers collaborate regularly to determine needs and make mental health resources available for our youth. The district’s focus on student mental health is at the forefront of conversations and decision-making.”

“Over the last week, students have shared how Shamiel’s presence in WCSD has influenced them personally,” she said. “The message I hope we all take away from this opportunity, with or without a former NFL athlete, is we all possess the ability to positively influence one another. Strive to achieve greatness with acts of kindness.”

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