20-min, 30-Min, or 1-hour keynotes
Emotional Wellness, Opioids, Vaping, etc.
Drug Abuse and Mental Health Conferences
Emotional Wellness for Staff, Parents or Youth
Youth Mentoring Certifications
CLIMB: Believe the Hype! Opioids and Vaping are Dangerous
CLIMB: It's OK, not to be OK
CLIMB: You are Stronger Than You Think
CLIMB: Face It! You are Incredible
CLIMB: It's Never Too Late to SOAR
The product of 15-year-old mother and a 19-year-old father, Roderick Cunningham was born in the crime-ridden housing projects of Jacksonville, Florida. Tragedy would strike Rod even before he entered the world when his young father died two weeks before his mother gave birth to him. In his formative years and while still a young and impressionable child, Rod was exposed to the harsh reality of domestic violence when he witnessed his step-father repeatedly abuse his mother both verbally and physically. Eventually his mother was forced to flee by night with young Rod for fear of their lives.
His mother’s divorce from his stepfather rendered Rod to once again be a victim of abandonment. At first, he was ‘abandoned’ by his biological father when he died, and now he was forced to separate from his stepfather in order to escape his cruelty towards his mother. The absence of a significant adult male influence in his life had an adverse effect on Rod’s emotional well-being, the effects of which would plague him into his adolescence.
Rod found redemption through his decision to join the Air Force. “Joining the Air Force was one of the best decisions I ever made and represented a turning point in my life. The Air Force provided me with structure, discipline, and exceptional influence from men of honor, dignity, and character”, Rod often shares. After an exemplary 29-year career, Chief Master Sergeant Roderick Cunningham retired in February 2016, his acclaimed E-9 rank is an achievement only earned by one percent of the enlisted force.
Now in his retirement years, Rod continues to serve the community in various capacities including that of a mentor to youth primarily in the Tampa Bay area as well as urban centers throughout the nation, he is a leader in the area of developing economic empowerment programs for families, and he is a highly sought-after speaker on substance use prevention and emotional wellness. Mr. Cunningham has delivered hundreds of motivational speeches on a wide array of topics to over 35,000 youth and adults.
A passionate advocate in the areas of drug prevention and misuse, Rod encourages youth to engage in positive decision-making behaviors by addressing the issues of parental abandonment, loss of a loved one, trauma, and peer rejection/bullying. According to Cunningham’s intense research, these are some of the primary contributing factors to the depravation of youth who struggle with emotional pain. Rod focuses on empowering young men, women, and adults by teaching them ‘The 5 Steps to Emotional Wellness’. He has worked successfully with community leaders to build effective programs that inspire emotional wellness and sustainable drug-free living by addressing the root causes of drug abuse, teaching coping skills, and building self-esteem.
Rod is masterful at speaking to the 13-year-old in each of us. His presentations are humorous yet hard-hitting. He has the unique propensity to connect with each person in a room of hundreds as he challenges and inspires them to discover their true value.
Mr. Cunningham is a well-respected member of our community due to his work with hundreds of our youth in mental and emotional health. I consulted with him in 2016 with respect to our Second Chance Program which eliminates arrest records for juveniles who commit low level crimes and volunteer their enrollment. Thanks to his input, we have seen a major reduction in the recidivism (reoffend) rate in St. Petersburg.
We had the pleasure of having Rod Cunningham speak during our convention’s morning plenary. With approximately 500 local stakeholders and concerned citizens in attendance, Rod engaged the crowd with charm and humor, making topics such as opioid abuse and mental health approachable. From the perspective of the event’s coordinators, Rod was easy to work with and was very responsive.
He stayed after his speaking engagement without having to be asked to further engage participants during the lunch session whom had questions. Our participants were thankful for his information, insights and for the opportunity to speak with him further afterwards. We are happy to endorse Rod as a capable and engaging speaker.
“I had the honor of hearing Mr. Cunningham speak at an event, and his story inspired me. I also knew that he would inspire the youth that I serve through a local non-profit. When he presented, he had the full attention of the room, and I could tell that the kids were really connecting to the ideas and applying them to their own lives. They continued talking about his points into the bus ride back to school, and a few of them came up to me commenting that this was their favorite speaker out of 2 years’ worth of presenters! One student even asked me for information to purchase Mr. Cunningham’s book!
If you have a group of youth (or adults) that you care about, hiring Mr. Cunningham would be a very wise choice. He won’t just entertain, but will plant truths that will move the hearer forward in their lives for the better.”
Our coordinator brought in some amazing guest speakers who taught me and the other littles important life skills. I don’t remember all of the guests but I remember most of the lessons. My favorite speaker had to have been the last one, Mr. Cunningham. He was funny and let us make our jokes and was very up to date with our teenage culture and slang.
He told us stories and had us close our eyes and imagine ourselves in 20 years. He made me imagine my house, my family, my cars, my job, everything. He inspired me to push for that dream and everything I imagined. He then answered my question of “why I am working so hard now?” I realized it is just to get to that dream.”
We have been fortunate to have many guest speakers throughout the year to present to the youth, including the Pinellas County Schools Administrative Training Specialist and the Assistant Chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department. The students have indicated you were their favorite speaker by outstanding margins. They remarked to our staff that you were able to emotionally connect with them on their level, and suggest real life solutions applicable to their day to day lives in a way that other speakers have not yet been able to.
Your message of “Getting out of the hole” resonated with our students and we are looking forward to an encore visit!
"You said what everyone was thinking".
"You definitely made a connection with all of us".
"Mr. Cunningham was able to relate to my situation".