Emily Kwiatkowski takes the stage as the lead singer for the “I’m in the Tiger’s Band” performance. Ryan Laird performed songs and told personal stories as a way to teach the students to “be the bigger person in any situation, do the action that benefits the greatest number of people, communicate your feelings with trusted adults, believe wholeheartedly in yourselves and be able to rise above negativity.” Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Country star teaches Sylvan Lake students bullying prevention and empowerment

Ryan Laird shared personal stories and performed songs at C.P. Blakely Elementary School on Nov. 30.

A Canadian celebrity visited C.P. Blakely Elementary School on Nov. 30 for a bullying prevention and youth empowerment presentation.

Ryan Laird, two time Canadian Country Music Award nominated recording artist, and the BiggerThanThat! program made their stop in Sylvan Lake on Friday.

Laird taught C.P Blakely students the program’s main messages of self-empowerment, inclusion, resiliency, and spreading kindness and respect through personal stories and song.

He opened the presentation by asking the students to think about something meaningful and important to their lives before singing a song called “Mind Your Man.”

“If you have a goal, if it’s a little unique or different, sometimes that can be a really good thing,” said Laird.

He continued with a story about how he used a unique idea to help make his dreams a reality.

After moving to Nashville he put up a billboard on the city’s famed Music Row asking Taylor Swift to produce his album.

Two weeks later Swift was on national television talking about Laird’s billboard and his music.

Laird added he wanted to share his story to help kids achieve their goals.

“It’s really important that you always keep believing in yourself,” Laird

He explained in order to achieve goals you have to take baby steps along the way.

Moving to Nashville, learning to play the guitar, writing over 300 songs and putting up a billboard were the little steps Laird had to take to become a country artist.

Laird then opened the stage to three students to share their goals and how they planned to get there before going into a song about “taking the road less travelled.”

The singer then opened up to the students once again about his personal life, telling them about when he was bullied in Grade 6.

In Grade 6 Laird had just arrived at a new school and had a goal of being really popular.

He entered the talent show and sang for his classmates hoping it would make him lots of friends, but unfortunately that is not what happened.

A girl named Ashley and her friends chose to pick on him and spread rumours about him instead.

Laird almost left school and gave up on his goal, but instead he talked to someone about it and worked out a solution.

“I just want you guys to know that I learned that by communicating with people you trust you can work out problems,” explained Laird, who added he recommends it to the students if they have any problems of their own.

“Life gets better,” continued Laird.

Laird was then joined by more students on stage, one who has a goal of becoming a singer and another to play the air guitar.

The three performed a “I’m in the Tiger’s Band,” incorporating the school’s mascot into the song.

The last topic Laird discussed was social media and the Internet.

“It’s important we all remember every time we go on it can be fun, but we always need to speak to people with respect and kindness like in real life,” said Laird.

He and the students made a promise together to treat people with respect and kindness every time they go online before he sang “Social Media Mania.”

At this point the presentation as winding down and he reminded the students to “keep believing in yourselves and keep doing things to achieve your goals.”

The BiggerThanThat! program has visited over 500 schools across Canada.


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Anne Swainson tells Ryan Laird and her fellow students her goal is to become a famous ice skater. During the Nov. 30 presentation Laird spoke to students about their goals and how to take baby steps to achieve them. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Canadian country artist Ryan Laird made a visit to C.P. Blakely Elementary School on Nov. 30 with the BiggerThanThat! program. The presentation was to teach bullying prevention and youth empowerment. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

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