Recognized for his relationship with daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Stedman Graham, a motivational author and chief executive officer of Stedman Graham & Associates, a Chicago-based management and marketing firm, will come to North Philadelphia in an attempt to inspire local high school students.
Graham will speak to ninth graders from William Penn High School at the Liacouras Center Tuesday to kick off the Move without the Ball program.
“It’s about showing students that sports are not the way to achieve success, so they can find a balance for academics as well,” Graham said. “There are nine steps to the process, but the first one is finding yourself, what you can do.”
Graham is a “New York Times” bestselling author. His most recent book, “Move Without the Ball: Put Your Magic and Skills to Work for You,” is the base from which the program was formed.
Patricia Randzo, principal of William Penn High School, said the school’s attendance rate increased after it was announced last week that Graham was visiting.
“Generally, our attendance here is somewhere in the 60 or 70 percent range,” said Randzo. “Our [attendance] numbers shot into the upper 80s and 90s. We even had 85 percent on Friday. That never happens.”
Dr. Joe Goldblatt, senior lecturer at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, partnered with Graham to bring this program to Philadelphia.
Goldblatt, who co-authored the book, “The Ultimate Guide to Sports Event Management and Maintenance” with Graham, said he became interested in organizing the program after reading Graham’s book.
“This program has three goals: … to bring the graduation rate up, increase the average GPA and to provide a good and motivational experience to students,” Goldblatt said.
He said William Penn High School was selected by the School District of Philadelphia because of its low graduation rate.
“The key to making things work for these students, and for Philly in whole, is a kind of dream team,” Graham said. “Students need to feel motivated by a role model, that someone is looking out for them, and the same goes for Philadelphians as a whole.”