Motivational youth speaker, Hollywood good looks and aspiring actor - you'd think life has always been easy for twenty-three-year old Kerry Girling of Saskatoon. But there was a time he says when he didn't even have the confidence to stand up in front of his high school class at Walter Murray Collegiate.
To help build his esteem Girling decided to join the school football team. He says he was physically smaller than many of the other players and as a result he was bullied a lot. He played football for the season. But after a while, the bullying and derogatory comments go so bad he quit the team. In fact he says that soured his appetite for getting involved with any school activities period.
"I didn't enjoy school any longer. I just didn't have the confidence to go any further. So I started cutting classes, I didn't want to do my homework, my grades started to slip. I stopped going out. My brother would always say Kerry, why don't you go out, call your friends or something. But I didn't feel confident to go out in public and do stuff that other kids were doing."
Girling says as he was raised on a farm, he much preferred doing chores and saving money to buy a car rather than party drink beer or get into drugs. But he says a big reason he didn't get hooked up with the wrong crowd has a lot to do with his older brother.
"My brother dropped out of high school in grade 10 and got heavily into drugs. It was really bad. He started smashing up cars that weren't his. He ran away from home at fifteen. Seeing that kept me from getting involved with that stuff. Our family went through a rough time when he wasn't around."
But Girling says his brother finally came to his senses and now is doing well, thanks in part to Girling's motivational speaking tours where his brother talks to teens about his experiences. His older brother is now into computers and has a young son.
After graduating high school, Girling says he was at a crossroads in life. He enrolled at Kelsey to pursue a course in Heavy Duty Mechanics, but soon realized that was not for him. He joined California Fitness to improve his physique and met Norbert Georget, and internationally recognized motivational youth speaker who talks to youth about the perils of drinking and driving.
According to Girling, Georget encouraged him to join his motivational speaking tour for a two-week stint on the west coast. Girling says two things happened on that trip. One; he learned a lot about motivational speaking from Georget and two; when he came home and heard a good friend of his had died as a result of drinking and driving, Girling realized he knew what he had to do.
"His death affected me so much that I asked Norbert (Georget) if I could speak about it to high school students. But I was scared. I didn't know if I could do that. The very first crowd I spoke to was fourteen hundred students in North Bay, Ontario. I was petrified, but something inside pushed me to get the message out to those kids. The feedback was great. I toured with Norbert for about six weeks. We did two to four schools a day and we received over six thousand e-mails from students. I heard about their experiences, their troubles and I felt I was doing something positive, something great."
In the meantime Girling had also followed another one of his goals, to be an actor.
Through contacts he's made in Hollywood, Girling was able to attend acting school in Vancouver and then got work in L.A on two major motion pictures. He admits Hollywood was exciting but at the same time he says he found the atmosphere materialistic and artificial, something he didn't feel comfortable with. That brought him back home to Saskatchewan, back to his true passion helping youth like himself take control of their lives.
Now Girling is on a mission, getting his message of 'Positive Lifestyle Choices' out to young people, students, teachers and anyone else who'll listen. He says it worked for him and he believes it can work for anybody.
"Creating a Better World through Better Youth"