I enjoy watching young people grow up and find their path; it’s wonderful seeing all of the good things that they accomplish. I’ve always liked recognizing youth that are trying to make the world a better place by their actions. I realized that in my mission of Creating Responsible Kids on Smartphones, I had created an excellent platform to recognize youth that are out there doing some great things. Check out the articles below to see kids doing some amazing things.

~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #resource

An Artist: Hannah Duckett

I want to introduce Hannah Duckett. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Hannah over the past three years. She continues to amaze me. I initially learned that she has wonderful skills working with children and a compassion for teaching them life skills. Then I discovered her amazing talents for singing, dance, acting and art. There is nothing she can’t do!! Check out some of her art!!



My name is Hannah Duckett, I’m a Junior in high school, and I’m home-schooled. Being home-schooled has allowed me the amazing opportunity of molding my education around what I love most: Art. I believe I’m an artist at heart. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion to create, and to share those creations. Whether it is on the stage, through writing, or through my studio art, I always strive to connect with people through what I have made. I believe that art can be used as a beautiful, healing tool, and nothing makes me happier than to know that my creations have helped others. I’ve learned, through my art, that something as simple as drawing a portrait of a loved one who has passed away can have a profound impact on a person, and help them to heal during a grieving process. Through the theater company Stage Right in Greensburg, I’ve been granted the opportunity to take that mentality to the stage. All artists are story tellers in many different forms, and I am so grateful to be able to reach more people through theater. Art, in all its forms, is a powerful force, and I hope to use those gifts to make the world a more beautiful place.

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #HannahDuckett #resource

An Author: Maddie Kopecki

I discovered Maddie through a 2020 Senior Adoption Facebook page. I was really excited to “adopt” a fellow author. She has a wonderful article on Medium about being in the senior class of 2020. It’s wonderfully written and a must read for every senior and parent of a senior!! She also wrote a book, Nowhereland, which will soon be shipped to my house. I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations to Maddie for her early career as a writer. I’m proud to adopt this kiddo and see where her career in writing takes her!



Maddie Kopecki is a California native, avid reader, and a proud Ravenclaw. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book, jittery from her last cup of coffee. Currently, she’s studying English at the University of San Francisco.

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #maddiekopecki #resource

Raising Awareness: Bekah Gerace

I was recently lucky to attend a talk by Bekah Gerace. She spoke so clearly on a subject that is very important to me. She flawlessly presented (to a room of 500 professionals) about taking care of those struggling with mental health issues with as much importance as we do those struggling with health issues. This kid amazed me at her ability to engage the room and refocus us on the stark differences in school between a student returning from a concussion protocol vs. a student returning from a psychiatric inpatient hospitalization. She has a wonderful message and I hope to continue to work with her and support her mission in raising awareness to this stark difference in schools. Watch her Ted Talk and be amazed!! Thank you Bekah!



Bekah Gerace,18, was born and raised in Lancaster County. She recently graduated from Manheim Township High School in 2019 where she participated in cross country and the suicide prevention and awareness club, Aevidum. While at Manheim Township, she participated in the Spanish Immersion program from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Through her high school years, she has faced cancer and many mental health challenges, which have helped shape her into the person she is today. Bekah enjoys writing poetry, photography, listening to music, spending time with her friends, and a number of outdoor activities, such as hiking and canoeing. Bekah will be attending Penn State Berks in the fall to pursue a communication arts and sciences major to begin a career as an author. Through her personal experiences, she is aware of the growing need for not only a change in attitude and perception, but also in the quality of care in the mental health community.

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #bekahgerace, #resource

Fitting In: Emma Kobelenske
Meet Emma Kobelenske, a young lady trying to help other kids feel welcomed. She has set a mission to help kids that feel like they don’t fit in or who have been bullied.

I asked Emma to provide an introduction of herself for the Youth Spotlight.

“My name is Emma. I’m a Senior at Burrell High School, Co-Captain of Burrell Swim Team, love music, painting, drawing and a good comedy.  My passion is my non-profit (Xo,E) helping others know they have a friend in me even if they feel sad at the moment.  No one should feel alone, sad, or bullied.”

Read the article below to learn more about Emma and her mission with Xo,E, her non-profit.

Follow her Facebook page to help spread her mission.
Thank you Emma for all of your hard work and inspiration!!
~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #emmakobelenske, #resource

Seeing a Snapchat Red-Flag: Gabe

I’ve been discussing the positives of social media since I started talking in public about youth and technology. Mental health red-flags online are sometimes easier to see than offline. If a young person sees someone struggling through social media or text messages, and they let an adult know, they open a new link to getting help. There are more eyes on the ball, so to speak, around individuals struggling with mental health issues when they post their struggles online. This can lead others to reach out to them just as Gabe Rongier did.

I’ve discussed Gabe’s story at my trainings. In May 2019, after discussing his story at a training, a parent in the audience raised her hand and said, “That’s my son.” We had a very nice conversation afterwards and she was more than happy to have me share Gabe’s story as a role model for doing the right thing. Check out his story below.

Way to go, Gabe!!!

~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #gaberongier, #resource

Suicide Prevention: Livia

I love seeing youth take on prevention efforts.

Check out Livia Bookwood’s PSA on suicide prevention!!!

~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #liviabookwood, #resource

Honoring Our Veterans: Megan

I saw this in the news and thought it was a wonderful story. Megan McCafferty, took the time to meet with local veterans to hear their stories and honor them through a book she wrote. The book is entitled “Freedom is Not Free, a Compilation of Veterans’ Stories.”  We need more kids like Megan out there.

Awesome work, Megan!!!

~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #meganmccafferty, #resource

Arnez Logan

A Sidewalk Hero: Arnez

This is an amazing story of bravery and doing what had to be done. Arnez Logan saved a kindergartner from being hit by a car. He is one of only four students in the country awarded the AAA Safety Patrol Lifesaving Medal for his heroism.

You are a role model to our community, Arnez!!!

~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #arnezlogan, #resource

A True Artist: Aubrey

I saw Aubrey perform at a Winter Guard competition that my daughter was also participating in and was amazed at her vocal talent. She made it to Hollywood on American Idol in 2018 with Lionel Richie calling her “an artist.”   Aubrey recently graduated from high school and is performing at a variety of events listed on her Facebook page. Currently she has four singles released. Go download them, you will not be disappointed. She has an amazing talent.

Follow your dreams Aubrey!

~ Ryan

Tags: , #youth, #youthspotlight, #youthshapingtheworld, #aubreyburchell, #resource