Winner of The Voice 2013 and famous author visits our schools for Book Week

This year, students across our schools were very excited to welcome the famous children’s author and 2013 winner of The Voice, Harrison Craig, during his Book Week tour.

The recent release of his book, Harrison’s Song, sparked a driving passion for him to share his experiences and struggles as a child with students in primary schools across Australia during Book Week.

Harrison’s book tells the story of his childhood struggles and how he overcame his fears of his speech impediment through the gift of song.

As a child, Harrison was often bullied because of his stutter and for many years he struggled to find his own voice.

“That feeling, when I first discovered I could sing without stuttering, will never leave me,” said Harrison.

He thought if he could perform all the time, he could work through his fears and become comfortable talking again.

“I want to inspire children to search for their own individual talents as an outlet and a dealing mechanism with the challenges they will face whilst growing up,” he said.

During his Book Week tour, Harrison aimed to instil a positive change in education by travelling to schools across rural NSW and sharing his story.

Visiting four of our primary schools during the tour, Harrison conducted two engaging and powerful sessions with the students, connecting with them on a deep and personal level, explaining how he was teased and bullied and struggled to fit in at school.

As Harrison progressed through his sessions with the students, you could feel the powerful effects of his words as they touched the hearts of each individual child. The strong anti-bullying message evident during his presentation encouraged students to ask questions and engage with him. 

On Tuesday 22 August, Harrison began his Book Week tour at St John the Baptist Primary School, Maitland. His visit had been highly anticipated by students following the release of his book several weeks ago.

“Our students witnessed this humble, gentle, sensitive and successful young man openly talk about how it felt to be bullied, what they can do if they ever feel like they are bullied, how to make the situation better and who can help make it better,” said principal, Mandy Sanderson.

“During his time at our school, Harrison instilled in our students that they can be who and what they want to be, just by being true to themselves. The students acknowledged that hearing Harrison say that he felt this way has given them permission to own their own feelings of being intimidated and bullied.

“Our children’s memories of the day will be treasured, not just because they spent time with someone who has a high profile, but because of the injection of confidence, enthusiasm and respect for Harrison as a person and for each child themselves as individuals.”

The following day, Harrison travelled up the highway to visit students at St James’ Primary School, Muswellbrook, followed by St Joseph’s Primary School, Denman.

Students were in awe of Harrison’s story as he turned through the pages of his compelling book, narrating with the children who were reading with him.  

“I thought it would be wonderful for our children to see someone who had overcome adversity and how he has risen above the challenges he faced as a child,” said principal, Niamh Marzol.

Principal, Aaron Moon, explained, “Harrison is an impressive young man with an important story to tell. The way he inspires children to believe in their talents and to work hard is tremendous.”

On Thursday 24 August, Harrison drove to Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Tarro, where principal, Cheryl Henderson, said, “Harrison Craig is a blessing – his personhood and generosity of spirit were absolutely inspirational.

“It was a privilege to witness the impact of his story as his powerful presence empowered many of our struggling students to find their voice during question time.

“Our students felt a connection with the experiences related in his book and everyone was uplifted by his message of ‘follow your dreams and believe!’” she said.

Harrison’s ability to move beyond his speech challenges and embrace his gift of a beautiful singing voice has been inspirational to the nation. It was the gift of song that enabled Harrison to share his love of words and music with others, visit and perform in cities around the world and work alongside Seal and Olivia Newton-John.

To finish the session, Harrison imparted the inspiring words, “No matter what your challenges are, you have to believe in yourself and live your dream.”

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is the Communications Officer - Content for the Catholic Schools Office.