PENTICTON - Robb Nash is in the South Okanagan singing poignant messages of hope and talking to students about the trials and tribulations of teenage life.
Nash is a successful recording artist out of Winnipeg who has had four songs on the Canadian top 40. He turned his back on a record contract and potential commercial success to connect with and inspire youth through the non-profit Robb Nash Project.
Nash spoke and performed to a large gathering of grade 8, 9 and 10 students from McNicoll Park Middle School, KVR Middle Schools and Penticton High School on Wednesday, May 27 in the Penticton High gymnasium. The Project also made presentations to students at Skaha Lake Middle School, Penticton High, Oliver Secondary School and Osoyoos Secondary School.
“Someone here in Penticton heard about us and the local Crime Stoppers unit raised the funds to allow us to come here,” Nash said prior to the show.
“We’re not losing our weak kids to youth suicide, bullying, drug and alcohol addiction, self-harm and depression, we’re losing our most talented," he said. "I try to channel those negative emotions into something more positive, to have people embrace their individualism."
The Robb Nash Project will play 158 shows on this tour. They have played in schools, prisons and on First Nations reserves across the country over the past five years.
“Since we began doing this, we’ve had 325 students hand us their suicide notes as they were leaving the show," he said.
During the approximately hour long show, Nash used the example of his own life to give the students valid reasons to carry on through adverse times.
In a rather unorthodox but surprisingly effective fist-in-a-velvet-glove approach, he told his story to the students in a light hearted, self-deprecating way about being victim of a head on collision with semi truck which had emergency personnel pronounce him dead on scene. He said survived the crash, only to have to climb out of a "pit of anger, self-doubt and depression" in his struggle to recover from the effects of the accident.
“One of the worst things people said to me as I was recovering was 'everything happens for a reason,’" Nash told his audience.
“We get to make our own decisions - every now and then we have a bad day. Things don’t happen for a reason. Things happen for the potential that could be,” he said.
Nash said he was haunted for months by the question of why he survived in a crash in which he should have died.
“There is a difference between the voices in your head and the ones in your heart,” he said.
Nash eventually called the American truck driver involved in the crash to tell him he had survived.
“The trucker had been haunted, too, since the accident by the thought he’d been involved in an accident which killed someone. I realized at that point I had done nothing for others all my life — everything had been about me. I asked myself how I could tell my story to make every day count.”
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