Local high school students received an inspiring, eye-opening, music-driven message from award-winning public speaker Robb Nash last Friday.
Nash, who travels to 150 schools across the country every year, captured the students attention by telling his personal story, which involved surviving a horrific car crash and a serious battle with depression.
At 17-years-old he was pronounced dead by first responders after being hit by a semi-truck. While he managed to pull through, when he woke from his coma Nash found himself in a dark, isolated place.
“I got through that darkness and I started to wonder how many other kids out there are like me and going through this darkness, not wanting to talk about it and holding it in. I know how dangerous that was for me,” said Nash.
Nash came out of this deep depression with a sense of purpose and started the Robb Nash Project. For the last five years he has been travelling the country providing free concerts to high school students and talking about drugs, drinking and driving, bullying and other issues concerning today’s youth. His goal is to inspire students to make positive choices to tell them that they have the power and ability to lead a life of purpose.
“We are not trying to change the world. We are trying to create world-changers,” said Nash, addressing hundreds of students packed into the Centennial Centre field house on March 4.
“We are trying to make people okay with who they are. If change is supposed to happen in your life, that conviction comes from within,” said Nash, who has been handed 438 suicide notes from students after presentations.
He pulled a handful of suicide notes from his pocket and showed the students, pointing out the fact that a lot of kids carry a note around for weeks just looking for someone to give them a purpose, to notice them.
“Out of the 438 suicide notes I’ve been handed in the last little while, they all have one thing in common: they all say ‘I feel insignificant’ or I don’t have purpose,” said Nash.
“I guarantee there was someone (in the audience) scared to come to school today, and that can’t happen.”
Along with sharing his tough personal battle to get to where he is today, Nash also showed the students several videos. The emotional videos showed distraught parents, friends and community members telling their stories after losing someone to suicide.
“Some people think you need to see tragedy in order to learn, and I completely disagree with that. I think we can learn from the tragedies we’ve seen already.”
After showing the students video’s Nash was very honest with the students telling them that the pain some people feel may never go away, but it is their choice to grow stronger and have the strength the get past that pain.
“It was really inspiring and it really touched on a lot of stories that teens go through nowadays. To be honest it made me feel a little emotional,” said Jenna Marchand, a 17-year-old student from Notre Dame High School.
“It was a really amazing presentation. It was great for students to hear. His story is amazing and I just hope he continues to inspire teens of all ages and everyone who needs this.”
Every student in the field house was clearly focused on Nash, as his style of presentation, which was honest, truthful and also light-hearted at times, connected with the kids.
“I thought his message is one that all teens need to hear and the way he delivered it was in a way those teens would listen to it. It was riveting and teens were open to it,” said Pamela Guilbault, principal of Notre Dame High School.
“I think it is really important right now because kid tend to shut down. They are not talking and we need to open up the conversation.”
Nash followed up his afternoon concert with the students by speaking at a gala in Glendon. He touched on some of the topics addressed with the students to better inform parents in the region. The gala also served as a way to raise funds for his project, as he currently offers it free of charge.