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 dreamers, 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.
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.
What do you do with the pain that you experience in life?
Everyone deals with their personal pain and suffering in different ways. Sometimes we internalize our pain as we feel that no one really understands it, or they don’t even realize that we are suffering. Sometimes our pain and hurt affects how we relate to others and how we treat ourselves. And then there are those times when our pain becomes a story to share that may help others overcome their own pain and hurt; to let them know they’re not alone – to encourage them with strength and support.
This is what world changer and motivator Justin Preston has done with his story. He has made it his mission in life to share his story and encourage others to be true to themselves. Justin has touched the lives and hearts of people all around the world through his amazing movement, Rise Against Bullying.
Justin took all the pain and hurt he experienced in his short life and turned it around to send love, respect, and courage to people throughout his community, the country, and the world. His heart’s desire is to reach people from all walks of life; to love them for who they are and teach them to show the same kindness to others.
The heartbreaking death of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old Ottawa student who committed suicide after years of being bullied by his classmates, spurred Justin to action. Justin was so deeply moved by this tragedy that he decided to share his own story online in the hopes of helping other people who have been bullied know that they are not alone.
The hands say it all.
Justin participated in Kids Help Phone walk.
His message of hope and kindness is what makes his movement Rise Against Bullying such an amazing cause; one that inspires people to look out for others. Justin leads by example, speaking words of encouragement and choosing to act with compassion every day. He believes that no matter what you are going through, you are not alone and that in time you, too, can find ways to help others.
I have had the honour to have Justin travel with me as our special guest with The Saidat Show for the past several months. In that time, Justin has been a breath of fresh air for me – encouraging the encourager as it were. I have watched him inspire thousands of students with his sincerity. After finishing a day of school shows with me, he can be found sitting at the table sending letters to those who have reached out to him; spending hours on his laptop searching for positive messages to share online; and finding more ways to partner with other movements that share his same vision of hope and acceptance.
Speaking at Be a Champ Day in London, Ontario.
Signing autographs for young fans.
Speaking a The Barefoot Walk, London, Ontario.
Over the course of these past few months, I have had the privilege of watching Justin live his message. He is genuine, uplifting and charismatic. When Justin tells you that you look great today, he speaks with such confidence and honesty that you begin to feel your shoulders straighten; you stand up a little taller as if you were a fashion model that people adore. When he wants to encourage you to never give up on your dream, he makes you feel like you can conquer the world. And when you’re down, he always says just the right thing to bring you out of that funk and get you back on track moving onward and upward.
It is not that Justin’s life has been free from bullying or pain, in fact, Justin had been bullied for years, but instead of allowing his critics to define his future Justin chose to make a difference in the world. He has taken that heartache, those feelings of loneliness, that feeling of not belonging and transformed it all into the outreach that is Rise Against Bullying.
By stepping out of the shadows of victimhood Justin is paving his own path to a place where he knows he can have the most positive impact on the world. Along the way, he is choosing to live his life for good by helping others through their own pain. He has learned to face his fears and turn away from people who want to make him feel small. His confidence inspires me every day.
Never be afraid to show your true colours.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
The LGBTQ community experiences so much rejection especially from the people who should love them the most. For anyone who feels isolated, anyone who longs to be accepted for who they are and not what society wants them to be having people like Justin speak up and breathe hope into their lives can be life-changing. And it’s something we need more of.
A world changer is a person who sees something in the world that needs to change and does just that – they change things!
Justin Preston has spent hours of his own time traveling across the country with me and The Saidat Show. He could see how tired I had become with all the coming and going. He knew I was struggling with the pressures of life that only those closest to me were witness to. True to his world-changer self, he took action, and changed things – for me and my family.
Justin has become part of our family. He’s traveled with me. He’s befriended my daughter. He’s kept Kristina company while I’ve been on the road. He took the time to learn how to understand and how to play with my child with autism. This is something I will always cherish about him as he always found ways to make Isaiah smile.
Helper, encourager, motivator and, yes, world changer are all words to describe the amazing Justin Preston. And I am grateful that he found his way into our lives.
Who are the people in your life who inspire you to become a world changer? Whoever they are, they are in your life for a reason. Take a moment today to acknowledge their contribution to your own greatness.
Live. Dream. Give. Live. Dream. Grow
For more information on what Justin does and ideas on what you can do to help spread his message, please visit Justin online:
At least that’s what it feels like for The Saidat Show. I would like to give you just a glimpse of what of past 10 days have looked like for me and my crew.
Let me take a moment to outline the daily schedule in my world – wake-up call every weekday between 3 and 4am; get performance ready (clothes, make-up, hair); grab meals for the road; pick up my assistant on time (which rarely ever happens, lol); drive a minimum of 2 hours, one way, to reach our performance venue; arrive at said venue at least 1 hour before show time; lug all the equipment into the school (I am my own roadie); set up our pretty extensive set (sound system, speakers, podiums, banners, etc.); inspire students by singing, dancing and jumping around for 6 hours; tear down the extensive set; lug the equipment back out to the van; drive at least 2 hours home; drop off my assistant; reach my home any time after 7 pm; help with homework; spend time with my family; prep meals for the next day; try to have some “me time” while still getting to bed by 11 pm.
On April 18th, we had shows in Peterborough. It was also my son’s 14th birthday. Peterborough is more than a 3-hour drive from our home, thus adding 2 hours, return, to my workday (see schedule above). I traveled to Peterborough. I danced. I sang. I jumped. I had a world of fun with students all day then I drove drive back home in order to celebrate Isaiah’s birthday with him before he went to bed.
Ten hours later I was back on the highway headed to Peterborough with my beautiful fiancee, Kristina, and our amazing friend, Justin Preston of Rise Against Bullying. This was the perfect opportunity for Kristina to train Justin who had decided to help us on our upcoming tour of the East Coast. He endured a quick-on-the-job training course on being my assistant and DJ before driving the 3 hours back home in order to prepare for the adventure ahead – 4 Provinces in 10 days. Two days in Ottawa, 1 day in Prince Edward Island, 5 days in Nova Scotia and 2 days in New Brunswick.
We saw a lot of highway on this trip. We drove through the night; sleeping in the van. No hotels for The Saidat Show crew on this trip. Our schedule included full-day, 6-hour school shows; parent nights; and singing the national anthem for the Island Storm Basketball.
The most exciting part of this trip, for me anyway, is the amazing new wrap on our Caravan (generously donated by Oxford Dodge), letting everyone know that we are in town. It’s so nice to see the excitement on the faces of both students and teachers when we pull up to their school. They know that the party has arrived.
It has been such a blessing to see this dream, a dream I cherished for years, to take The Saidat Show to different places and inspire students outside my home turf. The East Coast Tour began with one amazing person who believed in what we do – someone who took the risk to have us present at her school. I will always be grateful to Madame Cormier of Frank L. Bowser School. I am forever indebted to her for helping to open the door to amazing opportunities in wonderful new places.
The people who live on the East Coast of Canada are some of the kindest, most hospitable people we have ever had the pleasure to meet. We always feel so spoiled by the warm welcomes and friendly smiles of these amazing people. It’s so beautiful out East. If you’ve ever been you can understand why we so look forward to the next time we’ll have the opportunity to tour the East Coast provinces.
I feel that most of my weekdays are spent on the road – driving down great stretches of highway. On the road I find peace, shed tears, find inspiration and have my patience tested. I think some of life’s greatest lessons are learned on the road. Whatever your road may look like or wherever it may take you there is a lesson to be learnt. Keep moving. Keep inspiring. Keep thinking of new ideas. Oh, and stay awake. Also, know when it’s time to pull over and take a break. That’s key. No matter whether you’re driving on a literal highway or a figurative one, rest is sacred. These lessons are what make life the most amazing highway.
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.
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.
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!
On April 6, 2016 we will be raising the roof at Budweiser Gardens with the second annual Be A Champ Day. Be A Champ Day is an event to celebrate and empower local youth. Started in 2015 Be A Champ Day is an annual event held in conjunction with the TVDSB. Over 8 000 students, from grades 5 to 8, have been invited to join me and a host of celebrities and world-changers to celebrate the amazing things kids do every day to make their schools and communities great. By bringing young people together and recognizing their achievements and encouraging students to dream bigger my guests and I hope to plant seeds of positivity that will bloom over a lifetime.
The theme for 2016 is Do 1 Thing. I believe that everyone has the desire to do something to help make the world a better place. However, often people get overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in the world and end up not doing anything. By choosing to Do 1 Thing everyone can make a difference. That 1 Thing doesn’t have to be huge. Every little Thing has a ripple effect and those ripples can get huge. I want young people to know how important is it that they share their ideas on how to make the world a better place – “…write it down. Talk to someone in your school. Go to your principal, your teacher. Say, ‘I have an idea’….Don’t keep it to yourself. Actually start getting people involved in your school because together we really do make a difference.”
This event has been years in the making. It started as a dream in my mind and slowly blossomed into this phenomenal experience. One that wouldn’t be possible without the people in my life and the generous sponsorship of TD Canada Trust.
Be A Champ Day, 2015
Remember, One Person Can Make a Difference Together We Can Change the World.