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Former NBA Basketball Player Inspires SSIS Students

July, 2014
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ssis-suzhou-nba-will-njoku-8In April, Suzhou Singapore International School (SSIS) was privileged to have a very special visitor – William Njoku, a former professional basketball player and inspirational speaker.

Njoku played for the Canadian National Team, including participation in three world championships. He now works full-time as an inspirational speaker for Will2Win, in Canada, and visits schools on a regular basis.

His aim is to inspire students to set positive goals, believe in their abilities and respect all people, no matter what race or religion they come from. To do this he shares his life story (from being an immigrant in Canada to becoming a successful athlete) that was full of many ups and downs, including personal tragedies. His programme complements many of the IB learner attributes.

His programme at SSIS aims to provide students with ‘SAFE’ strategies. He asks students to “Set their feet, Aim high, and Follow through, Everyday” to help them navigate life’s many challenges while celebrating their own successes.

Njoku tailors his message according to age level from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and beyond to adults. To the Grade 6-8 students his focus was on “High Hoops.” His message was that adversity or challenges can be used to “make us stronger.” His programme focuses on encouraging children to create positive daily habits to achieve their goals for the future. He also inspires them to build healthy relationships and celebrate people’s differences.

For Grades 9 and 10 his Will2Win programme aimed at inspiring students to gain a stronger sense of self-worth and a heightened appreciation for life. He talked about staying strong through tough times and the need to build healthy relationships and to value others. He provided SAFE strategies to do this. His message is that life isn’t always easy but if they “Set their feet, Aim high, and Follow through, Everyday”, they can create a ‘resilient spirit’ to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

In Grade 11 he spoke about making positive choices and the necessity to build healthy relationships. Njoku is an advocate for mental wellness and has worked with mental wellness organizations in Canada. He hopes to inspire youth and give them strategies to maintain their mental wellness now and in the future. 

Njoku also held a workshop for the student leadership team to help them to learn collaboration skills and develop an understanding that teamwork and leadership is based on mutual respect and valuing differences, while working to achieve the same goals.

The student response was overwhelming, from him being mobbed on Thursday morning for autographs to some memorable quotes: “I learned that goals should be set but can be hard to achieve sometimes. So if I work on them everyday I’ll achieve my goals eventually,” said one Grade 10 student.


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