In two days, more than 1,400 students and teachers from 14 schools in Armstrong, Lumby and Vernon turned out for the powerful message of The Robb Nash Project.
Another nearly-200 community members came out for an additional performance last Wednesday night from the award-winning motivational musician at the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre.
The three shows were presented by Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Vernon & District Branch as part of its youth suicide prevention programming.
Following a life-threatening car accident where his vehicle collided with a semi-truck, Nash found himself dealing with unimaginable mental and physical pain, enduring multiple surgeries, years of anger, self-doubt, and depression.
After discovering his purpose and passion, he began reaching out to youth through rock music and lyrics, encouraging them to explore their own meaning and purpose in a language they understood.
“What started out as a nine-month tour has continued for nearly 10 years,” said Nash, who has reached more than a million youth in concert and video in that time.
“We are not trying to change the world, we are trying to create world-changers,” he said.
The interactive performance shone a light pursuing strength through addiction, bullying, self-harm and suicide.
“It was encouraging to see teens who had been to a school show bring their parents and friends to the community performance,” said Julia Payson, CMHA Executive Director. “Our youth are thirsting for support, a sense of purpose and opportunity to shine,” she said. “We can’t let that potential and enthusiasm dim.”
One youth, Felicia Robert, purchased a VIP ticket after seeing the show earlier in the day with her school group. The exchange student from Quebec was so inspired by Nash, she decided to return that evening in hopes of meeting him.
The two were introduced after the show, and performed a duet of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ (Check it out here). Nash gifted Robert with an autographed acoustic guitar and drumsticks.
“I am so glad I came tonight. I will never forget this,” said the aspiring 16-year-old musician from Saint-Georges, Quebec. “I had been through a rough patch a while ago and I wanted Robb to know how much his performance inspired me and how it really helps to talk.” In an email Robert’s mother, Louise-Andrée Roy wrote, “She (Felicia) had one of the most beautiful nights of her life. She is an inspiring young woman who had to deal with daily struggles not long ago and she’s so determined to win her every day battles.”
Nash revealed one of his biggest struggles is enduring severe discomfort from his injuries and multiple surgeries he has undergone over the years. “You can get up in the morning and if you look for pain, you will find it. But if you look for strength you will find that too. Strength always rises above pain.”
Rolling up his sleeves, Nash revealed the tattooed signatures from suicide notes that students had given him after seeing his show.
“Youth also have an incredible desire to help others and make a better community,” said Payson. “When we work together, we can build a foundation of strength so those days when their pain seems overwhelming, there are people of fortitude around to support them and guide them in moving forward.”
When taking a break from his 150 annual shows, Nash works with youth, teachers and parents to create compelling music, videos and stories to share.
“There are four stages to life; survival, stability, success and significance,” said Nash. “Lots of people stop at success then wonder why they aren’t happy. You have to have a purpose. That’s what makes you significant.”
“I tell stories because stories have power. You can share them and spread the message that way. You don’t have to get hit by a semi to do what I am doing.”