HERSEY \u2013 Bending steel bars, tearing a phonebook in half and breaking baseball bats, members of the Stand Strength Team presented a positive message and encouraged residents at Eagle Village to make good choices on Monday. T.A. Nalian, Stand Strength Team founder, who also goes by \u201cShrek,\u201d shared with youth the struggles he faced as a child, including an alcoholic father and bullies at school. \u201cWhen I was in the first grade, I was put in the special education department of the public schools,\u201d Nalian said. \u201cI never saw the inside of a regular classroom, ever. I was the kid who was segregated to a few little classrooms in the back of the school somewhere. \u201cBecause I looked different, acted different, and spoke different I was bullied and picked on in school.\u201d Nalian \u2013 who described himself as having been "written off" as a child \u2013 became a successful motivational speaker and today uses his strength and experiences to reach youth across the country. He told Eagle Village residents they are special, unique, important and rare. \u201cEveryone sitting or standing within the sound of my voice today has something special to offer, something special to give, and you all have something special to do in life,\u201d he said. \u201cThere is no one here right now who is second rate or inferior to anyone or anything. \u201cYou are the next generation of our leaders to come. We need you strong. We need you confident. We need you competent, because it will be you, it will be your generation making decisions for our country. We need you to make the right decisions.\u201d Nalian asked residents about what troubles them, and Matthew Lake, known as \u201cthe Animal\u201d wrote each of their answers on a phonebook. Fear. Anger. Rage. Drugs. Regret. Feeling insecure, ignored, worthless, disrespected. Then, he ripped the phonebook in half \u2013 vertically and unopened \u2013 destroying the painful words written on it. \u201cGod can use these tough times you are going through right now to make you wise, to make you strong, to give you something you can use to help other people one day,\u201d he said. Stand Strength Team members went on to perform other feats of strength. One blew a hot water bottle to pieces using the air in his lungs and another bent a steel bar over his head, then formed it into the shape of a \u201cU.\u201d \u201cGod wants to shape and form your life into something special because you are special, you are important, you are unique and you are rare to the Lord,\u201d Nalian said. Ashley, a resident at Eagle Village, said the Stand Strength Team\u2019s inspirational message was enjoyable and relatable. \u201cJust because my past or anyone\u2019s past has been rough doesn\u2019t mean you are unloved, because God loves you,\u201d Ashley said. \u201cSo many people in my life have just left. No one has been there for me for my whole life, but then I thought, \u2018God has been there.\u2019\u201d It is important for Eagle Village residents to hear stories of people that resonate with their own experiences, said Jeremiah Ketchum, past pastor at LightHouse Chapel at Eagle Village. \u201cWhen they get to see guys bending bars, breaking bats, it is just fun,\u201d Ketchum said. \u201cA lot of our residents missed their childhood. They missed having fun and laughing and going to fun events with their family. I think these guys bring a good combination of fun, athletics and they bring a message of God\u2019s word from a standpoint our residents can understand.\u201d \u201cAny chance these kids get or any adults get to hear a mention of healing, redemption and forgiveness brings them a step closer to being able to accomplish that in their own lives or to let God accomplish it in their lives,\u201d added Joe Wentworth, advancement officer and interim pastor at LightHouse Chapel. Eagle Village is a non-profit family treatment center providing intervention services and camps, residential treatment, foster care and adoption services for all counties in Michigan. If you know of a family in crisis that may benefit from these programs, or are interested in volunteering to do hair, makeup or take photos at Eagles Pride, contact Eagle Village at (231) 832-2234 or visit eaglevillage.org.