SALT LAKE CITY — A world-renowned motivational speaker brought his message against bullying to students across Utah Thursday.
Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs. Growing up in Australia, he never faced physical abuse; but the harsh words he heard caused deep emotional wounds. That's why he travels the world with a message of hope for all those who are experiencing the same pain.
Thursday, Vujicic was in Salt Lake City, sharing his message with the students at Bryant Middle School. He came at the request of Gov. Gary Herbert, and the assembly was webcast to junior high and high schools throughout the state.
"We all want to love ourselves and believe in ourselves, and believe that we can reach our full potential," Vujicic said, "and seeing a limbless guy smile sort of gets you curious, like, ‘Man, if he has something to smile about, maybe, first of all, my life is not so bad; or maybe I am not the only one in pain.' "
" ...seeing a limbless guy smile sort of gets you curious, like, 'Man, if he has something to smile about, maybe, first of all, my life is not so bad; or maybe I am not the only one in pain.'"
Throughout his 30 years of life, Vujicic has found a way to do things people always told him he never would. He began spreading his message of hope at age 19. Then in 2007, he moved to California and became president and CEO of the nonprofit organization Life Without Limbs.
Vujicic's message to Utah students was simple: Be careful with your words.
"I am striving to be all I can be and understanding what my words can do. I could kill someone with my own words," he said. "I am telling you, if you are one of those people who have thought of giving up because of bullying — that was me; but I tried to commit suicide because of bullying as well. I went to school and I couldn't get away from it."
How Nick Vujicic found purpose through God
" 'I found the purpose of my existence, and also the purpose of my circumstance. There's a purpose for why you're in the fire,' (he said).
"Nick wholeheartedly believes that there is a purpose in each of the struggles we each encounter in our lives, and that our attitude toward those struggles, along with our faith and trust in the Lord, can be the keys to overcoming the challenges we face."
After sharing his story, Vujicic listened to the concerns of students, many of them who have to face teasing or bullying every day. It was clear his presentation got them thinking about the consequences of bullying.
"Looking at what happened to Nick, the people might think they have to change," said Siutaisa Havea, a student at Bryant Middle School.
"(I can) learn to love and respect the people around me and not tease anymore," said Jason Briseno, also a student at the school.
Miss Utah Kara Arnold was also invited by the governor to speak at Wednesday's assembly. She, too, has been adamant about sharing the anti-bullying message.
"I think that is the power we have behind this campaign, is that we can change it. We can stop bullying now, and we can focus on the future," Arnold said.
That future, Vujicic believes, is full of possibility for everyone.
"I believe in every one of you, and I want you to live life and have fun — and as much as you can," he told the students.
Along with having a successful motivational speaking business, Vujicic also has a very happy home life. He and his wife are new parents to a son born just last month.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond