‘Like Christmas, with words like gifts’; Speak Life Day teaches the power of positivity


Hayward Jean spreads the power of positive speaking.

A Speak Life Day cheer rally held at Edisto Elementary School last month gave Jean the opportunity to encourage the students to cheer each other on.

“This should be happening in every school in the world, across the country, and if nothing else, at least in our state and county,” Jean said.

“We have students talking to each other in the middle of an assembly, teachers talking to students about life, students talking like that to teachers, motivational people from the community. It was just, it was amazing. It was like Christmas with words as presents,” Jean said.

Speak Life Day was created by Hayward, Director of Student Services for the Orangeburg County School District, and his wife Starlette Jean. The purpose of the day, held on September 23, is to encourage people and students in particular to say positive words of affirmation to each other.

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Edisto Elementary Deputy Principals Melvin Wright said, “It needs to spread across the country, all over the world.

“Everyone needs to hear this. I love it when they say, ‘We turn every negative into a positive. I teach my teachers to tell everyone from the negative: think about the positive. That way, you can’t go wrong.

The assembly was one of many held to celebrate Speak Life Day.

The event marked the third Speak Life Day and the first time the day was celebrated at a school.

“This event at Edisto Elementary School was historic,” said Hayward Jean.

“I saw the students open up. I saw their eyes open as if they were becoming new people,” Jean said.

Wright said: “I hope it’s not just the students, I hope our teachers hear it and want to talk about life every day and even put it into the kids. You can talk to your teachers about life and they come back to talk about life,” Wright said.

For Wright, the assembly provided a lesson in being positive towards people and treating others well.

“We should see more positivity and less negativity. We should see everyone talking more about life and if you can’t say anything good then you’re probably not thinking hard enough,” Wright said.

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“We ask everyone to talk about life,” Wright said.

Jean said that the more people talk positively, the less they will want to talk about negativity.

“You might get addicted to speaking the positive words the more you do it,” Jean said.

Terry Benjamin II, a mass communications senior from Claflin University, reports for The Times and Democrat as a news and sports intern sponsored by Lee Enterprises.

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