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Devon Harris      

Member of First Jamaican Bobsled Team; Featured in Hit Disney Movie, "Cool Runnings"

Born on Christmas Day, 1964, the world should never have heard of Devon Harris. He was raised in one of the most violent slums of Kingston, Jamaica yet he graduated from the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England and served as an officer in the Jamaica Defence Force. He started off as a barefoot boy trying to win a track race and became a member of his country’s first Olympic bobsled team. Circumstances and others constantly told him it was impossible but at every step of the way he, kept on pushing and found a way to make it possible.

At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.

Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.

The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated. Devon’s work has made a significant difference in the lives of the students attending his old elementary school as well as other schools in the communities surrounding his old neighborhood.

As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf and around the United States.

Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.

He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.

Speech Topics


Hot Lessons from Cool Runnings - Coaching for Personal and Professional Success

This program addresses the powerful role teamwork plays in both your personal and professional life. A high level of team work has been responsible, in part, for a great home environment, miracle drugs, breakthrough technologies, Olympic medals, and conquests of space and sea because these teams have the ability to synergistically harness their members' talents and energy. As the Captain of the Jamaican Bobsled Team and a former Sandhurst-trained Captain in the Jamaica Defence Force, Devon knows what it takes to develop, inspire and direct a winning team and translates the challenges and triumphs of the first Jamaican Bobsled Team into easily applicable lessons for today’s managers and tomorrow’s leaders.

The Power and Magic of Teamwork

This program addresses the powerful role teamwork plays in both your personal and professional life. A high level of team work has been responsible, in part, for a great home environment, miracle drugs, breakthrough technologies, Olympic medals, and conquests of space and sea because these teams have the ability to synergistically harness their members' talents and energy. As the Captain of the Jamaican Bobsled Team and a former Sandhurst-trained Captain in the Jamaica Defence Force, Devon knows what it takes to develop, inspire and direct a winning team and translates the challenges and triumphs of the first Jamaican Bobsled Team into easily applicable lessons for today’s managers and tomorrow’s leaders.

Out of many; One: An Olympic Athlete's View of Diversity in the Workplace

A fresh look at how diversity in the workplace is not just a legal mandate or corporate ethic - it is fundamentally practical, and brings the best teams to the playing field. Devon brings a creative and inspiring look at how at work, as in the Olympics, what really matters is performance, attitude and teamwork. With humor and understanding that comes from living what he believes, Devon delivers a compelling message to groups of all sizes about how to be more bottom-line successful by embracing and applying the innate strengths of a diversity philosophy.

Keep On Pushing: An Olympic Athlete's Message of Persistence

Devon brings his entertaining and effective message of how to 'keep on pushing', how persistence is a key catalyst in any success formula. Devon's presentation blends the need for every part of an organization to have the ability to persist, but not without good doses of wisdom, preparation, talent, teamwork, humor, passion, hard work and smart planning. Devon illustrates his presentation with his improbable story of a road that took him from the violent ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica; to Sandhurst; to the Olympics; to the hit Disney film Cool Runnings. With humor and compassion and real-life how-to guidance, Devon inspires the audience to 'keep on pushing' - his distinctive phrase when asked how he gets that bobsled down that run.

Get in, Sit Down

This half day seminar is suitable for all levels. Through open discussions and team building exercises, participants will be entertained, educated and motivated. They will emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and thorough understanding of the techniques which they can draw upon in their work environment. They will be equipped with the essential tools necessary for them to truly function as an Olympic caliber team.

Keynotes

Devon's keynote presentations focus on the importance of having a dream, persistence in overcoming adversity, embracing change and not allowing others to define the limits of your success. He delivers programs that are comprehensively customized, inspirational and vividly descriptive; drawing strong analogies to his experiences growing up in a violent ghetto environment and achieving the status of a three-time Olympic athlete and member of the first Jamaican Bobsled Team.

Devon offers a masterful blend of entertainment and meaningful content that is fun, effective and highly motivational. Audiences love Devon because he truly speaks from the heart and has an uncanny ability to connect on a deep level. Devon’s fascinating personal story combined with his captivating speaking ability move audiences to be more introspective. They leave more focused on their own goals and dreams; clinging to a renewed sense that they can attain higher levels of personal achievement.

School Runnings: The Power of Teamwork in Schools

As the Captain of the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England and a captain in the Officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force, Devon knows what it takes to develop, inspire and direct a winning team under the most high-pressured circumstances. As a parent and a volunteer in support of children causes around the world, Devon is acutely aware of the level of cooperation and teamwork that is necessary not just to groom successful students but to develop productive members of society.

In his customized keynote presentation, The Power of Teamwork in Schools, Devon draws on his wealth of experience to creatively challenge administrators and teachers to be at their best by having a clear vision, embracing diversity, and working as a cohesive unit. Devon uses his book, Keep On Pushing: Hot Lessons from Cool Runnings to bring specific ideas to the entire school community of administrators, teachers, staff, students and parents. He teaches how effective teamwork between administrators and teachers positively affect the student body and inspires them to do their best. Punctuated by humor, Devon's keynote will give audience members the practical tools they need to develop a first-rate classroom and school.

*This program is also available as a half-day Workshop

School Runnings: Yes, I Can!

Based on the story of the first Jamaican Olympic bobsled team and Devon's popular children's book of the same name, administrators and teachers and staffers are encouraged to see beyond the challenges of their current situations to the possibilities that lie within each of them. In this program Devon skillfully draws analogies between his personal experiences and the challenges the audience is facing. His poignant stories of triumph over adversity illustrate Devon's belief that each person has the right to say "Yes, I Can!" to their dreams; to believe in themselves; to plan and work towards these dreams; to persist - despite any and all obstacles. By the time Devon is finished speaking each audience member will know that they have the obligation, the right and the ability to live the best life they can.

This program is not only awe-inspiring and highly motivational; it leaves audience members with practical tools they can immediately apply to both their personal and professional lives.

School Runnings: Success Through Diversity

From the violent neighborhood of Olympic Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica to competing as a member of the only all- black team in the Winter Olympic Games, to the prestige of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England and the Officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force, to being an immigrant and now a citizen in the United States - Devon's life experiences provide him with a unique view of how an individual as well as an organization can succeed by embracing diversity.

Success Through Diversity allows the audience to see that everyone's unique perspectives and talents and their particular way of doing things give them something significant to contribute not only to their particular organization but to the entire community.

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