A Walk in The Darkness

Mental Health is at the forefront of our conversations lately and it’s about time. It’s so important that we are talking about it as a community. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, all Canadians are affected by mental health at some time through a family member, friend or colleague and 20% of Canadians will experience some form of mental health issue in their own lifetime.


Although I am not aware of any mental illness in myself I definitely had a season in my life where my mental health was failing and I was desperately crying out for someone to hear me, to help me and to heal me in some way.  Let me share a part of my story with you in hopes that it will help you understand that we all need to be aware of our mental well-being.


Smiling on the outside.

Most people know the side of me that is always smiling, always cheerful: The happy and hyper side of my personality. That is the side that I want everyone to remember me by. This side always looks at the bright side of things, loves every waking moment with children, can take on multiple projects at once and still enjoy the process. It’s the side of me that seems to have it all together.  In actuality, I think everyone in the world would like to be seen as flawless.


But as we know, perfection is an illusion; a fiction; a fairy tale. As every fairy tale has a wicked witch or a big, bad wolf, we know that there will be a time or times in our lives when the dark side will rear its ugly head and at the most inconvenient times.

Up until a year ago, I thought that I was a pretty positive person. I believed that with faith and hard work I would see my dream materialize. This was the foundation that I stood on and the platform I used to motivate young people to believe in as well. But 2015 hit me like a ton of bricks and I began to feel like I was losing everything I had worked so hard for.

You see, in the summer of 2012, I decided to “go big or go home” with The Saidat Show. My desire and lifelong goal has always been to have a children’s program that would reach the masses and to one day have a national TV talk show for children. This has been my goal since high school. With what I felt were means to fund an amazing entrepreneurship, I invested a substantial amount into my blooming business and passion. Although my heart was in the right place, I used only my heart not my head, or wise council, and I threw all of my assets into my business. I mean all of it!


Available on Amazon.ca


I actively pursued everything I thought would get me the exposure I needed to make my dream a reality. I invested time, energy and money in anything I believed would get me to the place I wanted to be – multiple music videos for kids; teaching videos for teachers to use in the classroom; I funded a short film about bullying; I wrote and published a children’s book; we invested in new props, backdrops, sound equipment…you name it, we had it.

All great ideas, each and every on but, regrettably, none of this brought prospects of bigger opportunities at that time.

By 2013 I was beginning to see that the funds were disappearing but there was no true sign of success. Now, we had many times when it looked like it. We say, “This is it – the big break”.  There was a possibility of a tour in the United States, a possible record label signing, a possibility to be featured on a popular talk show, so many possibilities but nothing solid. I threw more funds into the possibilities but by the end of 2014, I knew that I was in trouble.

So my idea was to take on another job with direct sells. It is an amazing company and I tried my best to make it work.  I thought that this second income would help me run my current children’s business as well as give me revenue that would sustain my family so that I would not have to depend directly on the success of being a children’s entertainer. But trying to run two businesses and make them both successful was not feasible at that time. In the end, I decided to give up the direct sales. I still love the business and the product but it didn’t go as planned and I was falling even deeper into debt.

2015 became what I like to call “survival year”! Finally, the investment in 2012 and the hard work since 2004 were starting to show signs of success. But I wasn’t enjoying it. I had invested so much time, energy – mentally and physically, and finances into the business that I was not celebrating the developing results. I was only focused on all of my failures throughout the years.

Most people didn’t know the struggles I faced. I still loved my job! I was still making motivational videos for the world to hear. I was still smiling, dancing and singing my way into the hearts of thousands of children in 3 Provinces with our school tour. The Saidat Show was bigger and better than ever, but something inside me was dying.

Kristina, my fiancée and business partner, asked me about my well-being on a daily basis. Statements like, “You ok? Something is wrong. I can feel it. What can I do to help?” My new assistants who were traveling the nation with me experienced many days of me crying for unknown reasons between shows, being extremely stressed and the Saidat everyone was familiar with – the happy and hyper Saidat – was only visible during the “show”.

I was showing signs of depression. Time and again the people closest to me would tell me that everything would be ok.  I was telling these amazing young people throughout my tour the same thing, but in my mind, I felt the darkness and I could not get away from it.  I knew that the source of my sadness was partially from exhaustion, and constantly reviewing all my mistakes in my mind while trying to “survive” the mistakes. I would try to cheer myself up by reading stories of now successful business people who persevered despite making big mistakes, but that heaviness stayed with me for a long time.

I read stories about Darren Hardy, Lisa Nichols, Joel Osteen, Oprah Winfrey…anyone who managed to overcome obstacles on their journey to success.

You see, by the 2015/16 school year I was living my dream. I was now working every school day (what I had dreamed of). I was recognized as an amazing children’s entertainer and acknowledged by many great people. I also had that television talk show.  The only thing missing was my happiness in it all.

Now I had been talking to students the entire 2015-16 year about having a ‘growth

Thoughtful on the inside.

mindset’. I was teaching them that failure is part of life and that you keep going even when it feels like you need help. I told them to always ask for help but was I living what I was teaching? I needed help but felt that no one would understand what I was going through. Boy, did I have to learn a lesson in practice what you preach.

There was a deep sadness inside me that would not go away. I tried getting away from it by eating as much food as possible, 20 pounds later I realized that wasn’t working.  I tried working harder but the darkness would not go away. It was only when I decided to take my own advice and ASK for help that I began to feel better. I also had to allow others to ask for help for me. By following what I was teaching I was able to foresee the passing of my season of darkness.

The 2016/17 school year is now off to a fresh start. Because I was willing to reach out and ask for help; because I was blessed by a network of amazing supporters; because someone at a great bank helped me get my business sense and (cents) together I can go forward and bring an even stronger message to young people because I have had the experience of living in that dark place for a season.

Here are some of the many things I have learned:

1.Listen! Listen to yourself!! Be aware of how your feeling! Just like when we know if we are hungry or full, we can also sense when something isn’t right inside us. Pay attention to your feelings, your mood or any changes in attitude about life. Don’t just shrug it off. Start early by journaling how you are feeling or talk to someone you trust and ask them to let you know if they have seen any changes in you.

2.Ask! I know that this phrase is redundant but DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. You never really know who wants to help you and you will never find what will help if you don’t ask. Ask a friend, a doctor, a parent…anyone who can lead you to the answers you need.


Try saying positive things to yourself.

Try getting outside and going for a walk.

Try listening to your favorite music.

Try learning something new.

I say TRY because if you try these things and you are still feeling down and the feeling is not going away you need to go back to step 2: ASK for help.


4.It’s OK not to be OK!

I saw this in a newspaper once and it really stuck with me. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to have a season of “not OK” We can even let the people close to us know that although we don’t know what is wrong we are working through it. Let them know that you appreciate their patience and will let them know if they can help.


5.Make Mental Health Your Priority

Being successful in life and business is not as important as having your sanity and happiness. You are valuable. You are loved by someone. And you make a difference in the world every day, but you can make a bigger difference when you can be your best YOU!


loving life
Things are looking up and I’m loving it!



Iron Sharpens Iron

What do you call it when you combine 31 athletes skilled with an axe and a saw, an annual 13901983_10153930290628212_1612326097_ocity festival and a supportive community together? We call it STIHL Timbersports! This year the city of London hosted The STIHL Timbersports Canadian Championship 2016 during the city’s annual Ribfest.  Add one children’s entertainer to this adrenaline-packed event and what do you get? A very diverse opportunity to learn and grow!

And that’s what I did this past weekend. Learned all about an amazing sport I only vaguely knew existed; met a group of dedicated athletes and their supporters, and grew in my understanding of commitment and determination.

This year’s STIHL’s Timbersports Canadian Championship was a very exciting one, showcasing many “firsts” for the sport. The first woman to host the STIHL Timbersports competition, TV personality Sabrina Pierson; the first time the event has been hosted at Ribfest in London, Ontario; and the first Timbersports event to have a children’s entertainer/hip hop performer co-host.

Now, if you had asked me to describe a STIHL Timbersports event prior to this, I would have looked at you with confusion on my face and asked the next question; What is Timbersports?

The STIHL Timbersports Series is a series of woodsman/woman or wood chopping competitions where the athletes compete in the use of axes and saws in manners typical for lumberjacks. It was founded in 1985 and currently includes six different disciplines, with both professional and collegiate divisions. (Please see STIHL Timbersports About page for a brief history of Timbersports.)


This multi-disciplined sport requires each competitor to go all out to prove his or her athletic ability in every way. Timbersports consists of 6 disciplines that take many years to master.

The Standing Block Chop which simulates the felling of a tree.

The Stock Saw which involves first warming the saw then, on a signal, the competitor picks up the saw, cuts into the wood and makes 2 discs or “Cookies” of a particular thickness.

The Underhand Chop involves having the competitor stand on a horizontal block of wood, hacking away at the block until it is separated in the middle.

 The Single Buck, better known as the “Misery Whip” requires the competitor to make one cut with a crosscut saw. This is a timed event and ends when the block is severed.

The Springboard, one of the most intense events in my mind, calls for the athletes to use precision and accuracy. First, each competitor chops a “V” into the tree trunk and then inserts the springboard into the “V”. He or she jumps onto the springboard and proceeds to chop through a block of wood which is 9ft from the ground.

The Hot Saw entails the use of extremely powerful chainsaws to cut through an 18″ diameter trunk as fast they can.

shawna and saidat
Shawna is a mover and a shaker!

About a month ago I received a call from Shawna Kwan, owner of Elan Dance Arts in London to let me know that she had referred me to a promoter of an event called STIHL Timbersports. Shawna always takes the time to highlight the talents of others. She has been instrumental in getting me being involved in the community and community events and I appreciate that about her.


This conversation was followed by a phone call from the executive producer of STIHL Timbersports Canada himself, Gerry Rozo. As much as I was honoured to be asked to be part of such a great event, I found myself doubting my ability to perform to the caliber of the competition.

I had never heard of Timbersports and all I could think was, “What can I contribute to the event not knowing the lingo?”. Those thoughts were quickly weakened by the encouragement of Gerry, Gail Kenworthy, Kerry Elliot and Sabrina Pierson. They believed they had chosen the right person to get the crowd excited about STIHL Timbersports at Ribfest. And because of their belief in me, I rose to the challenge.

Sabrina, the official host for the competition, went the extra mile and met with me to go over the ins and outs of the championship. By helping me achieve my goals Sabrina was also fulfilling a dream of her own – to become the first woman to host the STIHL Timbersports Canadian Championship. To have such a heavy responsibility on her shoulders and take the time to help someone else was absolutely inspiring!

Sabrina Pierson doing her thing.

I devoted many hours to studying the sport hoping to find the best way to co-host the event and highlight the amazing athletes. During this time I became inspired by the hard work and determination of the entire organization. STIHL Timbersports has built a team filled with people who train to be their best while at the same time bringing the community together and promoting other companies which are also doing great things in their communities.

The Women’s Pro Division, only in its 3rd year of Championship Competition in Canada, is shedding light on the women of Timbersports in Canada and they are inspiring to watch. During the Women’s Pro Division Championship 15-year-old Allison Briscoe showed great confidence and exhibited wisdom beyond her years. I watched as Anita Jezowski, Jessie Swinamer and Stephanie Naud remained focused and determined during their respective competitions. Each woman’s efforts gave testament to their years of training and the time and energy they have given to master their craft.

Even during the Championship ceremony, Caitlin Carroll, STIHL Timbrsports Canadian Champion in the Women’s Pro Division shared the first place podium with her friend and colleague, Janet Walker, the 2015 Canadian Champion. It was a tough loss for the former Champion, but you would never know it by the joy she expressed over the new champion and her work ethic the next day helping her friends in the Men’s Pro Division.


Stephanie Naud 3rd place Catlin Carroll and Janet Walker share the 1st place podium at the STIHL Timbersports Canadian Championship in the Women’s Division.

The 7 competitors in the Rookie Division never seemed to show that they were new to the Competition, as their strength and attitude in every event was top notch! George Williams from Fredericton, NB chopped and saw his way to the STIHL Timbersports Rookie Championship title. The 22-year-old gave it his all and it paid off.

rookie champion

George Williams the 2016 STIHL Timbersports Canadian Rookie Champion.

The last 3 days of the competition were dedicated to the Men’s Pro Division – 19 athletes from across Canada, spent many hours giving the crowds in London something to talk about. The driving blows of the axe, the precise technique and the control required for each discipline, and concentration required for the saw, made for one intense, adrenalin-filled competition.


Nothing was going to stop these determined athletes from doing their very best, not even a rainstorm.



Men who have been involved in Timbersports for many years competed side-by-side with the new blood – giving them something to work for. Wayne Paulsen, Rod Cumberland, Donald Lambert, Gaston Duperre and Karl Bischoff were also very patient with me as I interviewed them after each event. I was not quite sure which were the “right” questions to ask, having no previous experience with Timbersports, but these were true gentlemen who were both patient and kind as I learned the ropes. Each took the time, despite their fatigue, to explain in detail what happened during their “heat”, what worked for them and what didn’t work in their favour during the competition.

Nathan Cumberland, the 2015 Rookie World Champion and his brother Ben Cumberland, the 2016 Rookie World Champion not only displayed their extreme gift for the sport but their strong faith in God. Nathan in particular always gave credit to both his father, Rod Cumberland, for the years of training as well as his “Heavenly father” for giving him the strength to “finish strong”.


Scott Read, a coach as well as a competitor, always had an attitude of optimism and continued to encourage others throughout the competition. Read was gracious enough to allow me to tape a video (check out my Instagram!) offering some inspiring advice for the students I work with.


Geoff Larkin, Burlin Nickerson, Nick Hall and Trevor Schofield were always ready to give their all in every discipline despite the heat and sometimes rain during such intense competition. When asked what it takes to do well in every event Nick Russell said that he believes that it takes focus and that he will visualize what he is going to do before executing the move.


Every athlete had amazing insight as to what helps them achieve their goals. Ryan McIntyre offered a refreshing reminder to be grateful to the people who helped you get to where you are. He also said that when he’s competing it’s a race against the clock and that he likes to look at it as he is competing with himself; always try to do better than his last heat.


The London crowd was very excited about new STIHL Timbersports competitor local man,


Clarke Ellah. Fans would gather closer to the stage after every event to get a “Cookie” from the Single Buck, Hot Saw, and Stock Saw events. After intense battles with the wood firefighter, Marcel Dupuis who was the 2015 Canadian Champion, Cecil Starr the 2014 Silver Medalist in the World Championship and Mitch Hewitt, four-time Canadian Champion, would sign the cookies and give them to adoring fans.


In the end, it was Stirling “The Ginga Ninja” Hart of Vancouver, BC who would win the Canadian Championship. Not only is Hart an amazing competitor, he always had time to talk, laugh and joke around throughout the weekend. Even when the STIHL Timbersport Championship ceremony was rained out, he was not put out when we all poured champagne over his head in a small tent with his colleges surrounding him. To him, it was just the honour of being able to hold the Peter Colliver Memorial Trophy and represent it well!

This sport no doubt takes mental focus, strength and perfect handling of your gear. I watched one athlete after another take the stage with confidence and determination. With every swing of the axe, you could imagine the hours of training, the preparation and the sacrifices that were made in order to get to the Championship. Hart, and his fellow competitors would have spent hours fundraising and talking with people who may or may not fully understand the risks, the dedication or the skill it takes to be a competitor of this caliber.

Every athlete I had the opportunity to speak with gave me more reason to take my job more seriously. To do what it takes to put in the time and technique required to be my very best for my audience.

Timbersports is very different from being a children’s entertainer I know, but there are many things, transferable skills, that I learned this past weekend – skills and knowledge that I can teach to young people. Things they will be able to be to develop in their own lives whether they are an athlete or not.

1.”Throw your whole body into it!”

There were athletes who arrived for their Canadian Championship the night before their event. They were tired, a bit jet lagged because of time differences traveling across the country, but they did not allow the weariness or busyness of the day to slow down their momentum or distract them from their goals. Many have spent years working on their craft and they did not allow fatigue, heat, or rain, stop them from achieving their goals. I had the honour to witness their hard work and determination pay off.

Sometimes when we are pursuing our dreams we make excuses for why we can’t give it our all…..no time, family trouble, financial hardship, lack of support, etc. I am not saying that these reasons are not legit but if we allow them to be at the forefront of our thinking and overshadow our goals of being our best, we will always find a reason to let that dream go.

2. Stay focused

Know what you want to accomplish and stick to the plan. Athletes in their interviews mentioned that when they were competing they do not look at the other competitor to see how they are doing. They are focused on what they are doing. By keeping their focus on their own challenge instead of worrying about how the competition was doing they weren’t distracted from their goal of winning.

3. Get through the tough stuff

The road is not always easy or what you anticipated. The Timbersports athletes had some tough blocks of wood they were not expecting to have to attack but they kept on chopping. Life can be like that – you can be faced with a situation you weren’t expecting, a lot tougher than what you’re used to when that happens, follow the example of the Timbersports athletes – dig deep and keep chopping.

4. Surround yourself with good people

Iron sharpens iron as these athletes sharpen one another – pushing each other to better themselves every time they compete. When you surround yourself with those who encourage and challenge you you both become sharper.

The Timbersports family is comprised of dedicated individuals and I felt so blessed to have been welcomed into the fold. Thank you to Greg Quigg, President of STIHL Canada, for creating such an amazing event!

The STIHL Timbersports Series and Canadian Championship was surrounded by many friends and supporters. A big shout-out to all these outstanding supporters –

The Big Green Egg really helped get the crowd excited about grilling and having the support

Chef Dez gave us some amazing ideas how to make the most of BBQ season with the Big Green Egg.

you need to make a great meal outdoors.



Wood on Steel who supplied wonderful furniture as prizes

Timber Watches, offering beautiful and unique timepieces which helped all of us keep time at the event.

Tourism London always highlights the great things about the city

Johnsonville sausages and MotoMix were all part of this great event for the city.

From the photographers, stage crew, the STIHL Timber-Pack dancers, the singer of the national anthem, Shelly Rastin, and the amazing performance by Kelly Channer Band the STIHL Timbersports Canadian Championship of 2016 was a true community effort. This weekend has fortified my belief that it takes more than one person to make a dream materialize.

Together we can change the world!

Photo credit for athletes’ individual pictures – STIHL Timbersports


Who Really Matters?

Who really matters?

We are all afraid to say what we feel. The current political climate, the expectation of tolerance and political correctness have most of us, well me anyway, feeling intense emotions but hesitant to share what it’s in my heart.

Current events in our world that deal with terrorism, racism, religion, sexual orientation and the like fill our minds with fear and worry…

If I use that hashtag will I be ridiculed?
If I agree with this person’s point of view as well as empathize with the other side; will I be judged a hypocrite?

One life-changing story in the media can get our emotions reeling like a roller-coaster.
In the past three weeks, I have felt a variety of emotions: anger, deep sadness, revenge, empathy, and ignorance.

angry words

There have also been times when I have felt downright pathetic for not truly understanding the meaning and history behind everything that is happening in our world.

Yes, with the recent shootings, violence, and the uprisings there have been many thoughts, emotions, and opinions going through my head. But that’s just it…..it’s MY head! MY emotions! MY opinions and it has NOTHING to do with the situation and does nothing to change it. But change is definitely needed (there’s my opinion again).

Most of us have kept up to date with each unfolding story lately ready to give our opinion on what everyone outside of our world should have done, needs to do and explanations as to why it is happening; but how can we have the right answer if we have not walked in that person’s shoes for that particular situation? If you have not lived in their world and experienced what that person or group of people are facing how can you hope to have the “right answer”?

Maybe this is the season for us to LISTEN! We will never know how to change and make a difference in any situation until we learn to listen. Yes, we are listening to the radio, the TV talk show hosts, the newspapers, city officials and politicians but it is HOW we listen that makes the difference.

Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

I realized my pathetic desire simply to have an opinion when I first read of the sit-in of the Black Lives Matter Movement at the Pride Parade in Toronto on July 3, 2016. I found myself spouting my opinion to anyone who would listen. Did I understand why it happened…in my mind, I thought I did so that makes my opinion of value right? I thought so and I spent many wasteful hours talking about what should have happened and what shouldn’t have happened with everyone involved in it.

Two days later I was spending hours that turned into days reading about the horrible shooting of Alton Sterling, the 37-year-old who was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Once again, my opinion of what needs to happen, and who is responsible, and what the world needs to do, filled my conversations.

Then the tragedy touched closer to home. My hometown, in the very area of St. Paul, Minnesota where I grew up, 32-year-old Philando Castile was killed by officers in full view of his partner and young daughter. Now I can’t sleep because I can only hear the thoughts, opinions, frustrations and fears in my own mind about what is happening in our world. But as we know the tragic news did not stop. The violence now turned to our police officers, and terrorism affecting the rest of the world. July has been a very emotional and life changing month for everyone.

But with all the time spent trying to understand the predicament we find ourselves in as the human race, what did I accomplish? What changes did I bring about in the world? Not much because I did not take the time to listen and study to understand.

So how can I change anything in the world?

I can change ME!


There are 5 ways that I feel I can change the world. I hope that if you listen to these encouraging ideas, take them into your heart and apply them to your life we can see real change for the better. One Person Can Make a Difference. Together We Can Change the World.

1. Send thoughts of love or pray!

Words carry life in them. Positive Thoughts can transcend boundaries, and prayers can be spoken and sent to places we cannot go. Without knowing the situation, we can all ask for guidance for our leaders, strength for the victims and comfort for the people who will have to go through unspeakable hardship.

2. Think outside the box!

Not only does each tragedy affect the lives of the people involved, it has a ripple effect on their families, community, and the world around them.

Is there an organization in the affected area that we could donate to? One that could help bring some relief of some sort to the families?

Is there a way to use our social media to stir up more acts of kindness within the community affected instead of more resentment and anger?

3. Be well informed

Not only by the latest news updates but by knowing the history behind the actions; how has the past affected the present? How did past community leaders deal with situations like these?

Will this study period take up a lot of time? YES! But we are already spending “time” and energy on a most controversial angle or most entertaining one. Why not put that time and energy to better use? Learn the who, the what, they why, the how. After all, this is not a Hollywood Blockbuster we’re watching – this is our reality. This is our world. And it isn’t right.

4. Allow others to have an opinion

This brings us back to that difficult word: LISTEN

Your friends may surprise you by their opinion on a situation, especially if you assume you both see eye to eye on. Try to avoid dropping the friendship just because they don’t agree with you. You have to allow others to grow just as you are growing, and learning what works for you in your world. In the day and age, we live in we don’t have time to waste being upset because someone said something that you think was said incorrectly or that did not speak to the current situation. This is definitely a tough one for me, but as I am learning, and growing I need to give people in my life the freedom to speak their mind without judgment.

5. Treat others the way you want to be treated

In the times we live in we never know when tragedy is going to knock on our door – when our town or home might be headlining the news for tragic reasons. It’s a sobering thought, but one that is a harsh reality.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want people to say and do for me and my family if it was my name being read on the news?
  • How would I want people to respond to me when they don’t know the whole story?
  • How much space, time, and consideration would I want if the tragedy I was facing made worldwide news?

Asking ourselves these questions, before sharing our thoughts, can mold us into citizens of the world. People who make change happen without creating more pain. Using these strategies I am learning to be a better person every day.




Tune in to The Saidat Show!


I always say, “Never give up on your dreams”, but like most things in life preaching the philosophy is a lot easier than living it. Some days it is a conscious, moment-by-moment choice I have to make as I pursue my passion. This phrase has become my mantra while I continue working toward my dream of one day having an internationally-recognized children’s entertainment company.

For years I have described my school tour as “a traveling talk show for kids.” It had always been in my mind to host my own TV show (see Building the Dream). Every dream begins with an idea, but in order to come to fruition, that idea also needs to be visible to those who have the ability to help develop it.

London, Ontario is a beautiful community filled with individuals who want to provide Rogers-tv-logodreamers, like me, the opportunities to see their dreams materialize. Rogers TV in London has been such an amazing blessing to me. This community broadcasting network has helped me realize my dream of hosting my own TV show.

In May 2015, Marilyn Buggy, took time out of her hectic schedule to meet with me while I pitched my idea for a children’s show; a show that would help families and young people feel good about who they are and the community they live in. Marilyn, along with the staff at Rogers TV, recognized my pitch for what it was – great community-centred programing.  With their support, The Saidat Show aired 4 months later in September 2015.

The Saidat Show is a 22-minute inspirational program geared for young learners. This show has something for everyone! Filled with music videos, fashion and cooking tips and suggestions for school and home life The Saidat Show provides a platform for young world-changers to encourage their peers to get involved; to make a difference in their communities, their country, and the world. The show also features celebrity guests who want to act as role models for and motivate students to be all that they can be. Each episode includes special messages about the importance of mental wellness, balance and being kind to yourself and others.

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Here is a sneak peek of the first episode from last fall with fun school tips, fashion ideas and my special guest the amazingly talented Kolton Stewart from YTV’S show Some Assembly Required.

Happy Summer!

Growing Bolder Over the Summer

Me and Ms. Jam Gam!

This week’s blog is one that I have looked forward to for some time now. I believe that my life mission is to not only entertain and inspire children but also to shine the spotlight on others. I love to highlight the amazing people that I have the honour to cross paths with on my travels. And I’m so excited to have them share their gifts and passion with people that are connected with me.

I had the privilege of meeting Jahmeelah Gamble during my school tour this year. And what an inspiration she has been to me. Jahmeelah is absolutely beautiful inside and out! This multi-talented woman is a teacher, community educator, Award-winning host, and producer of “A Voice For All” on Rogers TV as well as an advocate for people with disabilities.
Today Jahmeelah is asking what are you going to do for yourself this summer. Will you accept her challenge?
Enjoy and please follow her journey at:
Jam Gamble on Facebook
@MsJamPccs on Twitter
Ms Jam Official Website
Jahmeelah Gamble on YouTube
Please share this challenge with co-workers, friends, and students. Challenge your school or workplace.
Jahmeelah Gamble is a passionate, high-energy speaker with a knack for connecting to an audience.
Her conversational-style approach and willingness to be transparent has caused audiences of all types to resonate with her delivery and message.

Let’s Hear It for the NBL

Have you caught basketball fever yet? According to CBC and the Toronto Sun, basketball has never been as popular in Canada as it is right now.  With all the excitement that has been happening in Canadian basketball this season, I thought it would be a great time to shine a light on Canada’s newest professional sports league. A league that is incorporating new ideas in Canadian communities; giving opportunities to dedicated athletes; giving us exciting sportsmanship to cheer for; impacting lives; inspiring future athletes; and providing great entertainment in over 8 cities across the Great White North. I’m not talking about another hockey league; no I’m talking about the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL).

NBLlogoOutlineThe NBL is in its 5th season and is bringing a whole new meaning to the game of b-ball. One of the main objectives of the NBL is to raise awareness of the sport of basketball in Canada. Despite having been invented by Canadian, James Naismith, basketball has long been overshadowed by Canadian fan favourite – hockey.

naismith_james “The roots of basketball are firmly embedded in Canada. In 1891 the game was invented by Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian who hailed from Almonte, Ontario.”

from History of Basketball in Canada
Continue reading at NBA.com

The league also aims to give Canadian basketball fans an exciting and entertaining experience live in their very own communities. League President, Vito Fijia, and League Commissioner, David Magley, have worked tirelessly to ensure that there is a sense of community surrounding the NBL (#nblcommunity). The game is not just about the athletes and the number of baskets scored – it’s also about how the fans experience the game both in and out of the stadium. The NBL recognizes that as important as it for the players to be seen on the court it’s just as important for the fans, especially young fans, to see their favourite players helping out in the community.

fan spirit
Fan spirit is loud and proud.

Basketball holds a special place in my heart. I actually tried out for, and made, the team in high school but became a bench warmer because I didn’t have the necessary skills to play competitively. I guess the arts, rather than athletics, has always been my true calling. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the action on the court. I love a good b-ball game!

I’ve been a huge fan of the NBL since its inception in 2011 and I was very excited when I was asked to sing the national anthem at a London Lightning game at Budweiser Gardens. Shawna Kwan, who was the choreographer for the London Lightning Dance Pack team, introduced me to the team and its staff. Shawna was key in finding ways for me to become involved with the league; to help build community spirit and bring the London Lightning, and its charitable work, to the attention of the community.

For the first couple of years, my involvement was pretty limited. I sang the anthem at some of the games in London and invited some London Lightning players to make special appearances on my tour with The Saidat Show. It was heartwarming to watch the students interact with these athletic giants off the court. The students would get so excited about seeing their favorite player, in person, at their school and be able to speak with them and get autographs. If only we could bottle their youthful enthusiasm and inject it into them in their teen years.

lightning players on tour
London Lightning players join me on tour.

In 2015, with the help of Thames Valley District School Board and TD Bank, the NBL and London Lightning provided The Saidat Show with the opportunity to host a record-breaking event for school assemblies. 8000 students filled the Budweiser Gardens Stadium to remember to “Be A Champ”. The show proved such a success that the Second Annual “Be A Champ Day” was held this past April.

The league recognized the positive impact these collaborations were having both in the community and in reaching their goal of raising awareness about Canadian basketball. The NBL wishes to affect positive growth nationwide and the league could see that the combination of the individual school visits the players were participating in, as well as the number cities and schools that I reached on my tour,  could make that outreach much more effective. By bringing these two ideas together – The Saidat Show and NBL Community – we could make a broader difference not only in London, Ontario but throughout the league. So in January of 2016, I was named Brand Ambassador of the NBL. What an honour!

NBLC-COMMUNITY-RED-LOGO-101647As Brand Ambassador, I happily promote the NBL and the league’s many community programs. Through their school literacy programs, anti-bullying and anti-drug messages, homeless shelter activities, support of abused women’s causes and breast cancer awareness they have made this sport not only about points on the board but making your days count with the people you influence through your craft.

Throughout the season, I have had the opportunity to meet many beautiful people. Individuals who are committed to ensuring fans have memorable experiences at the games. Each team has made the effort, taken the time and committed themselves to motivating their community in various ways. I have been blessed to witness many of these inspirational events.

WindsorExpressDartis Willis, president, and owner of Windsor Express (#WindsorExpress) has dedicated much time and energy helping the city of Windsor, Ontario to recognize the talent and hard work that goes into making a team great. Local students were so inspired when Express player, Maurice Bolden, came to their schools during my Windsor-area tour days. Not only did Bolden prove to be an amazing role model when he took the time to play ball with some of the students after the show, but he also provided encouragement and motivation to young learners on my Instagram account. Bolden isn’t the only role model playing for the Windsor Express. The team continues to earn my admiration regularly by showing their ardent appreciation for their fans. The story that touched my heart the most was when the team took one fan, a stroke survivor, out for dinner. So impressive, Express players.

London Lightning (#LondonLightning) is now playing in the NBL Championship games against the Halifax london-lightning-logoHurricanes. Apart from being a great team on the court, the London Lightning also has a dedicated behind-the-scenes staff. Being a resident of London I’m able to attend Lightning games on regular basis. I get to experience first-hand how much work goes into making a game run smoothly. Jessica McGregor, Adam Rubini work tirelessly to make sure game days run without a hitch and that the team has everything it needs to bring its A-Game for London fans. From lining up talent to sing the anthem, half-time games and making sure prizes are in place McGregor and Rubini are committed to providing fans with a great time. There are also amazing interns and assistants like Nick Hollinger and Tom Frasier that assist with community involvement. And I can’t forget about our enthusiastic MCs, Al Coombs, and Matt Weaver, whose running commentary keep the games exciting for fans. Fans are also treated to amazing dance routines performed by the London Lightning Dance Pack and the junior boys and girls dance teams. Once game time comes the team is on fire and the court is ablaze with action.

Orangeville_As_LogoThe Orangeville A’s (#go_asbasketball)have an amazing way to make their fans feel welcome and appreciated at every game. Whether it is giving a gift basket to an adoring fan, the electric DJ getting the crowd to move their feet, or the Lady A’s dance team encouraging the hometown crowd the fans are sure to know they play an important role in the success of their team. The A’s players have spent countless hours visiting schools and promoting the ideology of being a team player. Carissa Cooper would often show up at one of my school shows in the Orangeville area with tickets for local students to experience a game “on the house”.

The newest NBL team, The Niagara River Lions (#riverlions),has proved to be an excellent addition river lionsto the league. The fans were #1 in the players’ hearts and they brought their best game to the court each and every game and Brock University students put on amazing dance performances at some of the halftime shows. The Lions are a kind team and they were determined to make their city proud. It was obvious they did just that as the number of fans increased with each game. The president, and majority team owner, Richard Petko, worked hard to make the team a big hit with the community. I believe he achieved that! Way to go, Lions!

53_Moncton_MiraclesIn New Brunswick, the Moncton Miracles (#MonctonMiracles) have built a rapport with their fans that cannot be shaken. Talk about loyalty; these fans make sure the team knows how much they believe in them through the sheer volume of their cheering as well as showing their disapproval on what they feel is a bad call by the referees.  I had a chance to meet team player, Tom Granado, after a game while I was traveling out East. Not only is he a talented athlete, but he takes the time to express appreciation to his fans. I had the opportunity to speak with one family who has been to every home game in Moncton. Daughter, Natacha, was very excited when she talked about each one of the Miracles, expressing her goal of having an autograph from each player before the end of the season.

The Saint John MillRats (#TeamMILLRATS)are dedicated to helping build a community of great athletes. From millrats_pngGabe Freeman holding “Play Like A Champion” basketball clinics to holding summer camps for students the MillRats are doing their part to bring basketball to the forefront of New Brunswick sports culture. The summer camps allow participants the opportunity to learn from pro players and coaches on the very court where the local fans cheer the MillRats on. The coaches and players are building a team in Saint John that will grow and one day the MillRats will recruit the very athletes they are now training and inspiring them to play for the NBL.

The Halifax Hurricanes (#hfxhurricanes), who are also in the finals of the NBL Championship, have built a halifax hurricanesteam that is always thinking of the big picture.  I have seen the amazing way that Coach Lopez encourages his team to play hard and enjoy every minute of it. The Hurricane players strive to be leaders in Nova Scotia’s capital as well as inspire the community to dream big. Another amazing role model on the team is Michael Glover who, on a consistent basis, posts inspirational pictures on social media that encourage a growth mindset and a determination to be your very best.

Island_Storm_LogoIsland Storm (#islandproball) is Prince Edward Island’s only professional sports team and they bring great energy to our smallest province. Joe Salerno, who has broken the NBL league record for the most wins, is the first to give the credit back to his staff, team, and family. Always thinking about how to engage the fans, the Storm has a dedicated photographer, Paula Mozerolle, who captures amazing moments in the game and posts them to social media, encouraging both the fans and the players to bring their all to the court.  Mozerolle puts a great deal of time and effort to make sure the Storm players can see the positive effect their influence has on their community.

The Cape Breton Highlanders (#FeartheCape) will be a brand new team in the upcoming season. Their hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia is in for an exciting 2016-17 basketball season!cape breton highlanders

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention our amazing media personnel; Audley Stephenson who spent many hours filming and capturing all the teams’ highlights and efforts. Through Stephenson’s hard work  the fans were able to get a bit more insight into all the things NBL.


Chilling with Audley Stephenson

If a heart for people and a pride for where you live is part of your dream, you can accomplish amazing things in your world – the NBL has done just that in each NBL community. For the many announcers, coaches, referees, dancers and cheerleaders, score keepers, volunteers, community sponsors and players who make the NBL great we say, “Thank you”! Your talent and hard work really make a difference in Canada.


I think it’s safe to say that the NBL and its dedicated players, coaches, and staff have only begun to inspire, motivate and enrich Canadian communities. If you haven’t had a chance to go to see a game yet, the 2016-17 starts in a few short months. An NBL game is an experience you won’t want to miss.