The iconic song from The Lion King blares from the speakers as I watch my team members and myself do an over-the-top rendition of it on the screen. Kids giggle in their seats as my crew joyfully sings along.
Strange? Nah, it’s just another day on tour. It’s been just over a month since I began my wicked adventure as a LiveDifferent Academy student. I’m lucky enough to be travelling across Western Canada with my amazing team. Made up of two inspirational team leaders, four hilarious students, and three talented band members, I can’t image a more perfect team. Together, we tour high schools and middle schools across the nation in our makeshift tour bus, Black Cheddah. We aim to inspire a life of kindness and purpose in every kid that we meet.
One of my favorite things about tour is getting to connect with the students at the schools. At least one person from the team has a heart-to-heart with a student after each show. Kids relate to the stories told during the presentation and confide in us their deepest fears. We let them know that they are not alone in their struggles and that it does get better. We’ve actually had a student thank our entire team for completely changing her life. There is absolutely no better feeling than knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
Sometimes we’re treated like total rock stars. We’re flocked by kids holding up pamphlets and challenge cards to autograph. I feel honored and kind of flattered that they choose us as a role model. However, no matter what the response of the crowd is, we always leave the school feeling fulfilled and accomplished.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget our thirty-nine hour drive to Saskatchewan. Picture nine people spending thirty-nine hours in half of a school bus. There was so much that could have gone wrong, so many ways to get on people’s nerves, but the ride was feud-free. We laughed, we danced, and more importantly, we stuffed our faces with our eleven-pound jar of Nutella.
I remember turning off my music and taking a moment to soak it all in. No one was talking to each other, but there was still a sense of community in the air. The sun glinted off the golden fields and fluffy clouds littered the blue sky. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of home, and in that moment, I just knew that this is what I am meant to do.
Looking back, I realize that I didn’t have a clue as to what I was getting myself into. Luckily for me, this adventure has turned out greater than I ever could have imagined. In just this short amount of time, I have already noticed subtle changes in my outlook. As much as I will make a difference in other people’s lives, I think the biggest change I will see is in myself. Like the Saskatchewan horizon, my opportunities are endless.
Hakuna Matata. I can’t help but be reminded of the familiar phrase as I stare out to the setting sun. Reds, yellows, oranges, and purples melt together, forming a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Unlike anything I’ve seen before, I sit there mesmerized. My friends laugh at me, and with a knowing smile, tell me that it only gets better from here.