Red Deer Public School District

Students hear powerful message through Bigger Than That!

You can do anything you believe in. That was the message from country singer and motivational speaker Ryan Laird, to students at Annie L. Gaetz.

Bigger Than That! is a program which focuses on building self confidence, teaching resilency, respect, empathy, and inclusion by motivating students to believe in their goals and to become bigger than any negativity, all through the power of music.

“About five years ago, I got the idea to start Bigger Than That! because I was put down and bullied when I was in middle school,” said Laird. “I had a goal in my life of becoming a country artist. After I became a country artist years later and had some success with that, I wanted to think of a way that I could use my voice as an artist to inspire youth because music is a great way to share a positive message.”

Since launching this initiative, Laird has visited close to 500 schools across Canada speaking to about 300,000 students.

“It’s about trying to empower youth that you don’t have to succumb to negativity, negative thoughts or other people putting you down. If you have a passion in your life or if there is something you want to strive to become or achieve, you have to really go with that. It’s about believing in yourself and figuring out some actions you can take in your life to get on the path of making that success happen.”

Laird said he enjoys doing these performances and helping to make a difference in the lives of kids.

“I get to meet some of the kids after the show - we do a little Q&A - and often later in the evening when I am checking Facebook I’ll get messages from parents of the kids about how they talked about the show over dinner and how their son or daughter is really inspired to chase their dream,” he said. “It’s really rewarding for me to hear those kinds of stories because that’s the underlying purpose of Bigger Than That! It’s also a fun musical event and I think it’s important that we have fun when we present these important messages.”