Rocker Robb Nash signs arms and cards for students at Robert Thirsk High School

How rocker Robb Nash is helping kids find the strength within

Rocker Robb Nash signs arms and cards for students at Robert Thirsk High School

Being hit and killed in a head-on collision with a semi-truck wasn’t the turning point for rocker Robb Nash.

“I didn’t wake up and want to change the world,” he says. “What doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger automatically, it takes choice.”

The crash shattered part of Nash’s skull and he had no pulse when emergency responders arrived. Miraculously, on the way to the hospital, his pulse returned.

For Nash, the choice to change the world came when he realized he could play a role in helping kids. As a successful musician with songs in the Canadian Top 10, he made the decision to exchange one tour for another by sharing his story with kids so they can find the strength inside themselves.

“Suicidal people are the most emotionally charged, energetic people,” Nash says.  “They hurt deeply, but they can see when other people are hurting too. They think they’re cursed because when they go through a tough day, they can’t keep going, they’re overwhelmed. The extra emotion…it’s a gift.”

Now, Nash travels the country talking to kids in junior and senior high. He has talked to over 900,000 kids in schools, detention centres and on reserves and in that time, he’s had kids hand over razor blades, bottles of pills and over 150 suicide notes.

On January 30, Nash visited two Calgary schools – Robert Thirsk High School and H.D. Cartwright Junior High. Robert Thirsk Principal Chris Meaden says bringing in positive role models like Nash to speak to her students is essential as the school creates itself as a caring community.

“Part of what [students are] living is seeing positive role models like Robb and hearing his message,” says Meaden. “There is a sense in his message that we can make a difference given the strengths we have.”

Presentations like Nash’s are changing the lives of our young people and making them stronger for the mental challenges they face through adolescence.

“We’re not trying to change the world, we’re trying to create world-changers,” Nash says. “There’s only so much four guys can do, but we know talking works. That’s where we can say BOOM, that’s where we’re having an impact.”

Samantha Brown is a communications advisor at United Way of Calgary and Area.