Finding Your Voice: Using Creativity for Positive Change

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Grant speaking at the TED Talks

In 2011, at age 14, Grant Davis was recognized by NIDA and the GRAMMY Foundation for his song, “Just a Child,” a tribute to his older sister Kelly, who struggled with addiction.

Recently, Grant shared his story during a TEDx event at the University of Nevada. TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) and TEDx are a series of conferences designed to share “ideas worth spreading.”

Grant, now 16, says that as he prepared his TED talk, he remembered how he felt seeing his sister passed out on the floor. “I couldn’t get that image out of my head,” he says. “Heroin, Kelly’s drug of choice, is incredibly difficult to overcome. Every second of every day, I know she wishes she could go back and live her life differently.”

But Grant’s latest song, “What About Me?” focuses on another aspect of drug addiction—how it also affects the person’s loved ones and overshadows everything else.

Grant says, “At 10 years old, I experienced many scary thoughts about my sister’s addiction. My parents were wrapped up with helping her, and I kept thinking, ‘What about me?’ The pain was overwhelming.”

Singing gave Grant a way to release the pain he was feeling. “I began singing, first in the shower, then in my room. Through singing, I found the pain was nearly gone, and I could think clearly,” Grant explains.

A conversation with his mother gave Grant a new idea. He says, “I thought, I can’t be the only kid suffering. So I decided to start an afterschool club for anyone having troubles at home.”

Creativity for Positivity

Grant calls this club WAM, for “What About Me?” and sees it providing a creative outlet for kids who might otherwise give in to negative influences and peer pressure. WAM has three main goals, to help kids:

  • Build friendships.
  • Find their creative place in the world.
  • Share their talent.

“The process of sharing and discovering your talent can have a genuine impact on self-esteem so that kids do not fall prey to drugs,” Grant says. Noting his sister’s continuing struggles, he observes, “It’s easier than having to fix a drug problem afterwards.”

Grant envisions WAM as a way for kids to find and share their voices in whatever form of creative expression they choose. “I do believe that anyone who wants to can fly.”

Tell us in comments: Do any creative pursuits help when you get down or go through hard times?

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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