- Bullying Prevention
- The Power of Perspective
- Overcoming Life’s Obstacles
- The Power of a Simple Act of Kindness
- Promoting an Empathetic Mindset
- Recognizing Struggle as a Means by which to Grow
- Understanding the Power of Choice
- The Difference between Activism and “Slacktivisim”
- The Science of Kindness
- Professional Development Workshops
- Parent Workshops
Prior to embarking on his career as a speaker and advocate for kindness, Rich was a science teacher for 15 years at a middle school on Long Island, New York. As a man of science, perspective is something he learned at a younger age than most, and has always been something he was fascinated with. On his thirteenth birthday, Rich was admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening condition called benign idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. His bout with the disease nearly killed him and robbed him of the vision in his right eye. Realizing how short life could be, Rich decided to make the most of his time and made a pact with himself to make every day count.
For almost 25 years he stood by that code until life tested him again with the tragic loss of his only son, Richard Edwin-Ehmer (Rees) Specht at just 22 months old. Just when he was ready to give in to despair, a kind stranger came to him and reminded him of the power of simple acts of kindness. The acts of kindness that he and his family received after Rees’ passing inspired them to “pay forward” that kindness.
Rich and his wife started “The ReesSpecht Life Foundation” in memory of their son. Its goal was simple: Remind people of the power of human kindness; which the foundation does in the form of scholarships for High School seniors, and the worldwide distribution of almost four hundred thousand ReesSpecht Life “pay it forward” cards.
The work of Rich and the ReesSpecht Life Foundation has been featured by The Today Show, Fox and Friends, CBS News and many other news outlets and publications. In 2014, Rich wrote the award winning children’s book “A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness”, which is slated to become an animated television series that teaches children that our kind acts are like seeds that help to cultivate kindness in others. The book and television adaptations of A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness represents the culmination of Rich’s goal to help make this world a little better, one Rees’ piece at a time.
Rich’s presentations are sure to leave your students/staff with the belief that they too have the power to overcome anything life throws at them and make a difference in this world.
Colleges and Universities: (40 minutes to 1 hour or more)
Rich’s college programs are designed to show just how powerful kindness is and to address the misconception that kindness is “just for kids”. The presentation starts with the idea that simply wishing for the world to be a better place is insufficient. Using his science experience, Rich proves that wishes alone accomplish nothing and that waiting for a wish to come true is the recipe for apathy. Additional themes include the importance of perspective and choice when it comes to thinking of our place in the world and our ability to make a difference in it.
The formation of the Cultivate Kindness movement is set against the backdrop of Rees’ passing and the events that transpired afterwards. Rich shares with the students several examples of the exceptionally kind acts the family received following Rees’ passing and the family’s repeated efforts to repay those kind deeds.
Not accepting that those who helped them in the darkest hour would not take anything in return, he recounts how they came up with our “Pay it Forward Cards” and how they quickly spread across the world (Over 390,000 at current count). Using his science background, and a clever demonstration, Rich reinforces and proves the idea that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. He shows them a growth chart that ends with him pointing out that it is his wish goal to change the world…
The presentation ends with a challenge to your students to think a little bit about how they see the world – and their ability to change it with their actions. Using more of his science background, and some interactive tools, Mr. Specht will challenge your student’s perceptions of perspective. He will prove to your students that their choices and actions, both good and bad, matter – and all have consequences. Most importantly, he will demonstrate that the most dangerous choice is choosing to do nothing at all. When all is said and done, Mr. Specht will have your students amazed at how much of a difference a simple change in their point of view can make. Rich finishes the presentation with a challenge to the students to go out and make a change for the better by starting their own chain reaction of kindness. This presentation will open your student’s eyes to a different way of seeing the world – allowing them to see the good in it, and that their ability to make it even better starts from within. All students and staff in attendance will receive a “Cultivate Kindness Pay it Forward Card” to help them in their quest to make this world a better place, one Rees’ piece at a time.
“…this organization is truly inspirational. I’ve now seen you speak twice at Driftwood Day Camp as a staff member, and they have both been incredible. Keep doing exactly what you do!” –Jamie G. (Counselor Driftwood Day Camp)
“Your presentation brought tears to my eyes but joy to my heart. It was truly a privilege to have heard your story… Thank you for bringing true hope back into my heart.” Caterina P. (Suffolk Community College)