Rapper and motivational speaker, Duane (D.O.) Gibson, is heading on a B.C. school tour early next month, where he’ll hold one-hour assemblies combining motivational speaking and live performances to engage students with his message of positivity.
Gibson’s tour will stop at Raft River Elementary School on April 2 and Barriere Elementary School on April 4.
“My name D.O. stands for defy the odds and so I talk about overcoming challenges and adversity,” said Gibson, who’s been doing these school tours for almost 20 years.
“What I want kids to know is they can overcome challenges and adversity and achieve their dreams if they have persistence.”
Gibson’s presentations also focus on leadership, character education and the importance of role models, citing Will Smith as a positive celebrity he looks up to.
He also talks about the benefits of reading, writing and speech that go beyond just literacy and helping with rap skills.
“I think it’s the personal power you get from using words, so while I’m a rapper, I also graduated from university where I took English,” he said.
“Some people think that just helps with rapping or poetry, but really it showed me I was also a business person; I wanted to control my own destiny and I think that’s an important message for kids to know too—school isn’t just about having something to fall back on, but it can help your skills in any direction you want to achieve.”
To further engage the students during his presentations, Gibson uses a mix of improv and freestyle rap, where he gets the children to call out words he then uses for improvisational rap lyrics.
He said not only does this make things fun for himself and the audience, but shows how much time and practice he puts into his work.
“That’s one of my favourite parts, getting the kids to freestyle, because when I freestyle I ask the kids for three different things to rap about, then I just create a rap based on what they tell me—it could be anything from cheese to puppies, and a popular one is always Fortnite, now that kids are into that (video) game,” said Gibson.
“It’s fun for me, just coming up with it on the spot and it lets kids know that I had to really work at my skills to be able to do that.”
Gibson added the main goal of these presentations, though, is just spreading positivity to the youth.
In the information age especially, he notes children are bombarded with messages from different areas like social media, and with bullying and cyber bullying, positivity is more important than ever.