(Photo by Randy M. Cauthron) [Order this photo]
North Carolinian Keith Deltano has spent the last two days traveling the frozen roadways of northwest Iowa, addressing teens and their parents. The topics of his conversation are issues near and dear to his heart: Abstinence and bullying.
The bullying presentations were made during assemblies to area schools, and his abstinence presentation was delivered as the keynote address at the annual No Apologies two-day event in Spirit Lake and Spencer. He kept his audiences laughing while addressing the very serious consequences of tormenting classmates and engaging in premarital sex.
(Photos by Randy M. Cauthron)
"Comedy is an effective tool in engaging young people's attention," the comic teacher said. "They sat there for an hour. That's a tough gig. Sitting in the stands for an hour. They can relate to the comedy. It gives me an in. Kids that came there with their arms crossed become engaged. Comedy is the left jab that sets them up for the right cross of truth."
There's little humor associated with his message of teen mothers and fathers, sexually transmitted diseases, peer pressure from classmates and the need to fit in.
A former Marine and tough-man competitor, Deltano fits the bill. Shaved to the scalp, loud and intimidating. He plays it to the hilt, referring to himself frequently as the big bald guy. But he was also an educator, and it was a classroom experience that inspired him to begin sharing his message of faith, acceptance and non-conformity.
"I was a school teacher - an award-winning school teacher - and I used comedy in the classroom. One year I had a pregnant sixth grader in my class and it really opened my eyes," he explained.
Deltano continued, "Kids were messing up their lives with sex, drugs and alcohol. That pregnant sixth grade girl was a catalyst. I get upset about the culture and the lies kids are told."
Deltano terms his presentations as "in their face" and "medically accurate," and he wants to impact lives.
"The push comes from changing lives," Deltano explained. "Twenty percent of high school students contemplate suicide at one time, according to CDC. I got a call from a guidance counselor saying two kids came forward a day after my performance and said they needed help. They needed counseling," Deltano recalled.
He added, "I had a student who saw one of my presentations contact me on Facebook and say: 'Look I've changed my mind.' That's what I live for. Those changed lives, those changed thought patterns. That's what keeps me on the road."
The speaker credited the organizers of the No Apologies events - which he spoke at Tuesday and Wednesday evenings - with their ability to work together.
"The No Apologies team is one of the most focused and efficient teams I've worked with. The fact that they can get 1,500 youth to this event in rural Iowa. That's thanks to their ability to work together. It's unusual in Christiandom."
He won the Teaching Excellence Award for his work with at-risk youth and has been listed in Who's Who of America's Teachers and Outstanding Young Men of America. He was granted The National Impact Award for his work in parent outreach and education.
Deltano presents three different online options, providing a look at what he does -- dontbullyonline.com, defycomformity.com, and virginityrocks.com.