Let’s kick it into high gear!
Due to an editing issue (my editor was under the weather) my usual Thursday post is a day late. My editor sends her deepest apologies and promises that her germs are not attached to this blog post.
If someone would have said to me 5 years ago that I would be hosting an event with thousands of students raising the roof at Budweiser Gardens I probably would have looked at them with fear in my eyes and said; “Yeah right; I don’t think I’m at that point yet.”
Me? Host an event where I would have to entertain thousands of students at once? Me? Organize a concert with multiple performing artists and dignitaries? Me? Put all that together? Nuh-uh. Not happening. But that is exactly what happened when my now fiancé and an amazing visionary named Taylor Brown asked me to entertain the idea of hosting a citywide event entitled, “Be A Champ“.
The “Be A Champ Day” incentive was proposed as a school board-wide pep rally with the focus on encouraging students from Grades 5 to 8 to find their voices and take action to make a difference in the world. Now, having a great idea and actually working to see it materialize are two different aspects of the same story. In your mind everything works out perfectly. On paper it all makes sense. But actually taking those steps and acting on your plans takes a lot more work. They say it takes a village to raise a child the same can be said of making a dream a reality – we needed the help of many more visionaries; excessive amounts of patience and inexhaustible amounts of commitment from everyone involved until the very end of the show.
I’ve always believed that every child needs a time to be able to hang loose, scream as loud as they want and have fun with friends in a time I like to call “organized chaos”. It was with this in mind that we began creating the Be A Champ program. I have the privilege of seeing this “organized chaos” on a smaller scale every week as I travel to schools around the country presenting The Saidat Show Live. It is my honour to witness thousands of students, ranging from JK to Grade 8, experience a day of “organized chaos” – having fun with friends as well as receiving a positive message. I am blessed, on an almost daily basis, with the opportunity to observe young people open up, stretch out of their comfort zones and shake off the regular school routine.
The thing I love most about Be A Champ Day is how the city of London and surrounding communities come together in solidarity to bring all of this amazing positivity to students. Who would have thought that a bank, a basketball team owner, a school board, a number of celebrities and entertainers, not to mention the countless volunteers would come together, give of their time and talents, some even going so far as to invest their own money in the event, so that thousands of local young people would be able to attend a once-in-lifetime event? A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought it could happen. I love being proved wrong.
My faith in humanity is high as I believe, with all my heart, one person can make a difference, together we can change the world. And that belief has been validated time and time again while working on the Be A Champ Day program. The evidence is in the hearts and minds of the people I’ve met during the last two years while I have been creating and hosting these events. These gracious souls have strengthened my belief in what amazing things can be accomplished when we, as a community, come together with a common goal. Be A Champ Day is a program that means so much to me; I feel very strongly that there are times when students just really need a boost of positivity to go out there and find their own voice.
Over the years I have met and worked with so many wonderful people in the community who have made a difference in the lives of our local students. It is a great pleasure for me to be part of bringing these young people together in one venue where they get the opportunity to see their role models and even some celebrities; people they admire and look up to, and hear the message from these role models’ lips that they, the students, are important to their heroes – that each one of the 6000 young people in attendance matters.
I have been so blessed to be part of a team that gathers these community leaders together to spread the message of hope and empowerment to the students. To help them remember that we’re all in this together so we just need to love and respect each other and celebrate our goodness. It’s a day to focus on positivity, not the negative, and for the past two years we have seen success. At the end of Be A Champ Day we see students laughing and cheering; walking out of the stadium hand-in-hand excited about their life and excited about their school.
Currently, Be A Champ Day is only held locally in conjunction with the Thames Valley District Board. My ultimate goal is to bring this same feeling, using a similar program, to cities throughout Canada. I believe that every child needs to feel like they are a champ and every community needs to know how many people are willing to work together to bring about that positivity.
But I have to say that this day of excitement and positivity did not materialize without the presence of fear and self- doubt. There were times I felt lost and directionless, but I find that the bigger you dream the higher the chances are that you’re going to feel a bit overwhelmed. You may just need to take a step back, take a breath, look around and realize you’re not alone. Being confident in that sense of community really helps you to keep pushing forward.
Keeping the faith was not always easy, at times we didn’t know if the show was actually going to happen; there were times when we didn’t know how we were going to get the right entertainers with our limited budget. We worked very long hours and shed a few tears (me more than others), but as the Psalmist said “weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
And so it is with great joy I declare Be A Champ Day 2016: Do 1 Thing a roaring success. The second annual Be A Champ Day saw so many talented individuals and teams showcase their gifts for an incredible audience.
- This year we had some amazing dancers present their artistic and athletic talent. Brooks Academy of Dance from Tillsonburg laid it all out on the floor. You could tell they worked long hours to be able to move the crowd with their meaningful choreography.
- World-changer Justin Preston, founder of Rise Against Bullying, gave a moving speech encouraging students to be proud of who they are and to “Shine Bright”.
- Crowd favourite, Kolton Stewart, known to young viewers for YTV’s Some Assembly Required and the upcoming film My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, charmed the audience by singing and playing his guitar. It was wonderful to hear the students signing along – “We can make a difference”.
- Canadian singer/songwriter, Hailey Reese, sang a song of confidence to a crowd who was in awe of her beauty – inside and out.
- The London Lightning basketball players provided that athletic edge to the day running drills as students took their seats. The students were even more excited to come back that evening to cheer them on to their win that night.
- The London Lightning Junior Dance Pack and Boys-Only Dance Pack showed off their mad dance skills to a cheering crowd.
- London Lightning star #44, Ryan Anderson, proved he isn’t just a jock when he took to the court with a mic and sang for us. It was a wonderful reminder for all of us that there is often a lot more to people than what we see on first glance.
- Virgin Radio announcer Luke Rodriguez from London’s FM 97.5, along with community leader and vocal artist Bronson Deagle, helped me to MC the day. We had a blast working up the crowd and Luke learned a few new dance moves.
- L.A.’s own 4Count came all the way from the sunny shores of Cali to give the kids an awesome performance. These talented young men also provided a great deal of encouragement to the students and helped celebrate all the wonderful things the students of TVSDB have accomplished so far.
I watched as these amazing people, celebrities, who the kids have been seeing on their TV screens for years, become role models for them live, in person. It was a joy to observe the students get to see that these larger-than-life stars are just human beings – no different than the students themselves. And to watch as the kids responded to the message that they can make a difference and they can pursue their dreams from these celebrities was a privilege I will hold in my heart for years to come.
I believe this pep rally, big, loud and a little bit outrageous will reach the students on another level helping to encourage them to find their gifts and talents and share them with the world. What a way to inspire young people – by allowing giving them a chance to experience people living their dreams and in return they walk away knowing they can believe in their own dreams coming true.
So what I am asking you to do is FACE YOUR FEAR!
When you face your fears, you are able to dream bigger. And when you dream bigger, when you allow yourself to become the visionary you truly are, you’ll see that there are even more visionaries out there ready and willing to help you make your dream a reality! Don’t be afraid of the big dreams. When you acknowledge the fear, sit with it and say “I know you’re real and I know you have a purpose, but I’m going to try anyway” – when you go with it you’re able to see that you can actually conquer your fears. As one of my favorite speakers Joyce Meyer says, “Do it afraid”. Going for your dream afraid will help you see how brave you really are.
When you face your fears you get to see that you are not alone in your dream. There are visionaries planted throughout the entire world that are ready and willing to help you; to share their experience with you; to encourage you; and to celebrate you when you succeed. When you are working on a goal or an idea, don’t get discouraged if your emotions are a mixture of excitement, anticipation, fear, doubt and insecurity – that’s normal! Don’t give up! With every step toward your goal you will also be greeted with more strength to keep going! I believe in you.
Live. Dream. Give. Live Dream. Grow.
Just had to share the media that’s out there about Be A Champ Day 2016. So proud of my team, my guests, my co-hosts, the TVDSB students and their teachers….let’s keep celebrating!