Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Never Say Never: Lives That Inspire


The story of Justin Bieber’s rise to fame has been hailed as one of inspiration. After seeing his new movie Never Say Never, one of my 6th grader’s friends said that it was “life changing.” I think she said this because his story of going from a kid busking on the streets to a super star inspired her to believe that her dreams are within reach. Justin Bieber’s story is amazing. But, there are many people that I know who aren’t necessarily famous, but inspire me to live a life that makes a difference. In this post I’m going to share a few of them with you, and I’d love to hear who inspires you!

In the video above, you can see Haley Whatley talking about the Bunnies and Bears program that she started for sick children at Cooks Children’s Hospital when she was 6 years old. From a child’s impulse to comfort other children who were hurting, Haley’s program has grown to include multiple school, churches, and families. Haley inspires me with her belief that, even as a child, she has something important to offer to this world. While she plays tennis, runs cross country, and is interested in having fun just like the next kid her age, she’s also interested in making this world a better place.

Eric Littleton also inspires me. Eric’s son Solomon developed Landau Kleffner syndrome, a rare neurological disease at the age of five. By clicking on this link, you can read the story of Solomon’s quick regression from a happy little boy who communicated well to one who seemed to be locked in his own world. Rather than spending his time feeling sorry for himself and his family, Eric has spent the last few years lobbying for changes in legislation that allow insurance companies to deny children like Solomon medical treatment. Eric and his wife Marci are also working to raise funds to establish a school for children with Communication Disorders that will provide much needed therapy and training for children with disorders like Solomon’s. To read more about their work, visit this page.

Laurie Klose is a clinical faculty member at Texas State University and the past-president of the Texas Association of School Psychologists. She has spent the past several years lobbying for legislation that assures and supports the most highly qualified psychological professionals for needy children in Texas schools. Even as powerful professional groups rallied against her, Laurie continued to garner support and was recognized nationally for her work. Her passionate determination to provide quality psychological services to children in the Texas schools has inspired teachers, administrators, parents, and other professionals.

Jonathan McIntosh calls himself a “pop culture hacker.” He remixes video to tell new and transformative cultural stories that inspire us to question the messages that the media sends to us. Sharing Jonathan’s remixed videos with adolescents and students opens their eyes to a new way of looking at the world around them, and provides them with a prime example of critical media consumption. To see some of the work that Jonathan is doing, visit his website, Rebellious Pixels.

Then there are Lindsay and Lexie Kite, 25-year-old identical twins and Ph.D. students studying media and body image at the University of Utah. Their project “Beauty Redefined” (beautyredefined.net) aims to help all people recognize and reject harmful media messages about women’s bodies and redefine beauty and health for themselves. With body hatred at an all-time high and an appearance-obsessed society reinforcing dangerous ideas about women’s worth, they know this work is crucial. Recognizing the unrealistic, harmful and distorted view of women in media is a critical step toward breaking free from ideals that seek to control us through feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Lindsay and Lexie have said, “ when we can recognize and reject these dangerous messages so ever-present in our lives, we can move on to anything and everything else that really matters in our lives and contribute good in ways we cannot when we are so focused on things of no worth.”

Each of these people inspire me to remember that I can be a world changer in big or little ways when I set my mind to it. From Haley’s bunnies that she brings to sick children to Jonathan’s videos to Lexie and Lindsay’s research, these people are great examples of how to become a world changer. Who inspires you?

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4 comments on “Never Say Never: Lives That Inspire

  1. Lindsay Kite
    March 4, 2011

    This is wonderful! I’m inspired already! Thanks so much for including me and Lexie on this great list of people. We’ll do our best to live up to the standard set by these amazing people you recognized here! We’re so happy to join you in your fight against harmful media messages. Thanks for your great work!
    Lindsay Kite
    BeautyRedefined.net

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 5, 2011

      Thanks, Lindsay! It’s my belief that as we join our voices to speak out and form community, we are becoming a force to be reckoned with. I’m proud to support the work that you and Lexie are doing. It’s important!

  2. Elizabeth Whatley
    March 4, 2011

    All great, inspiring stories! Nicely done:) a great reminder to live each day serving others. I love it.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 5, 2011

      Thanks, Elizabeth. Haley is an inspiration!

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