Mike Smith says it took him eight years and a lot of failures before he made his dream of running a non-profit skate park in Lincoln come true.
On Tuesday he told Hall County students his story, and said that with the right attitude they can make their dreams a reality too.
"They don't realize that the decisions that they make today, all the little decisions are effecting them, effecting the future version of themselves now," said Smith, owner of The BAY 198. "It's basically my goal to come in here, empower them to believe in themselves, and help them to make the decisions that are going to help them down the road."
Smith was one of several speakers who touched on many topics at the Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addiction's 2011 Youth Congress. Prevention Educator Rod Felton says Youth Congress is a chance for over 100 students from GISH, GINW, GICC, and Doniphan-Trumbull to get together and talk about issues they're facing. The goal is to encourage students to follow their dream, but with today's high schoolers dealing with issues like peer pressure and substance abuse among others, that can be an uphill battle.
"We want to be sure and tell students your future is made by the choices you make every day," said Felton. "Right now their future is unlimited, depending on those wise choices they make."
One Grand Island Senior High senior says it's easier to take a positive message back to her classmates.
"I think that's very helpful because then you [that] even when there's times where everything seems to go wrong, in the future there's going to be a brighter side of it," said Reyna Raymundo.
The CNCAA says they'll be able to reach out to even more Hall County students later this month at the middle school Youth Congress.