For most of his WVU career, Wes Lyons was on the receiving end of passes from Pat White. Nowadays, Lyons is doing some passing of his own. Passing real-life lessons to teens.
In 2012, WVU’s Wes Lyons released the self-help book titled The Pursuit With Patience with the goal of helping teens learn discipline and skills not taught in the school systems of western Pennsylvania. Four years later, Lyons and “The Pursuit” is still gaining momentum.
What is “The Pursuit” you ask?
“The Pursuit Program is an education program where we work with students and help develop their life skills,” Lyons said. “Such as decision-making, planning, goal setting, time management, and fund management. We really cover a lot things that aren’t being covered in the schools and helping these kids develop these skills. Or even with setting goals, we’re making kids think a little differently about setting goals.”
Lyons has used his platform as a professional athlete to catch students’ attention.
“A teacher could say the same thing that the staff of the Pursuit Program would say, but they [the teens] will understand it a lot more effectively coming from us than a teacher or a parent,” Lyons said. “That is why our program has really been impactful in the schools that we are in. We are in eight schools right now. We go in during the school days and work with the students.
Lyons “team” is made up of former pro athletes to work with the students and facilitate the program. He developed the program originally to help teens understand the process of being a pro athlete (Lyons played for the Pittsburgh Steelers).
The reason they use former professional athletes is because the students get that “awed” factor that they tend to look up to. The kids get excited to watch these athletes come in and speak with them. As athletes, they tend to be bigger than average (Lyons is 6’8″ for example) and many of the teens already aspire to play sports professionally. So, when Lyons and his staff come in, the students are more open to hearing from them and developing their life skills.
They have a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh where they work with their Center of Urban Education and work with schools through them. They are also developing a partnership with a local community college and with a local pro soccer team, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and use their athletes who get involved in the community and want to be a part of the Pursuit Program.
Since Lyons released The Pursuit With Patience in 2012, he has gone on speaking tours and then began speaking to more adult oriented groups. He went back to his high school and spoke with the athletic director about getting the Pursuit in schools. Lyons was then brought in to speak in front of the school and the program has blossomed since then with the connections he made. His book is now in over thirty schools.
As he kept getting invited back to speak with students, Lyons knew he had to bring something different to the table each time to keep the students’ attention. From there, he developed the separate lessons on goal setting, money management, decision-making, etc. That led to the development of a workbook.
“The Pursuit Workbook” life skills curriculum provides the essential steps to success for students. It is constructed around the skills that are acquired from being involved in athletics and demonstrates how to use lessons from team activities in their everyday life to help achieve success.
Next on Lyons agenda is to grow the Pursuit Program outside of the Pittsburgh area. Another former Steeler, Robin Cole, was in Los Angeles recently to speak about the program on Lyons’s behalf. He tells us that he would love to transition into West Virginia soon.
Lyons recounted several examples of getting involved with troubled youths where his program completely turned around their lives. “A night and day” change, he said. His staff gives teens email addresses where teens can reach out to Pursuit counselors directly for advice.
Also be on the lookout for his next novel!