Independence Bank Security Officer, Kevin Kabalen, and Owensboro Police Department D.A.R.E. Officer, Courtney Yerington, had the privilege of introducing national anti-bullying speaker Retro Bill to ten different school programs around Owensboro the past three days.
“His hair is real and his message is great,” Kabalen told a gym full of students this afternoon at Newton Parrish, as Retro Bill took the mic and held the kids’ attention for thirty plus minutes of positive messages infused with comedy, sound effects, props, audience volunteers, and that trademark retro Elvis rockabilly hairdo.
- Stay on your positive channel, Retro Bill said with a TV remote in his hand, because positivity is power.
- Always remember the lesson of the circle and treat your neighbor with respect, he said with a hula hoop in his hand, because most of the time treating someone kindly comes back around to you.
- No one can steal your light, he said with a lantern held high.
- Don’t carry around your issues like a suitcase.
- Hit pause. Take a breath. And find your positive channel again.
For Bill, those words and lessons come from the heart. He was bullied as a kid, which is the driving force behind why he devotes his life to spreading the message of respect to kids around the country. He was also raised in a military family, so he lets the kids know how fortunate they are to live in the greatest country on earth. “But beyond our Constitution and Bill of Rights, what makes America great, I believe, are our people,” Bill said. “We truly are a giving, caring nation of great people. We stand up for the underdogs.”
As he explained to Owensboro Living after the Newton Parrish school assembly, Bill has spent the last twenty years creating his character and this show to reinforce things kids hear all the time from parents, teachers, counselors, and grandparents (keeping a positive attitude, walking away from the negative, not letting people ruin your day, not letting anyone have power over you) but he packages it in a way kids can relate to. “I tell people I present a well-balanced message served as dessert. But I fully understand that too much laughter is like too much sugar. So what I like to do is have them laugh, but then I go for the heart,” he explained.
Visual aids and sound effects help drive home the point. “I use that remote control and I know that the next time they see a remote it will remind them to stay on a positive channel and to mute the negative.”
After doing this show around the country for over twenty years, Bill says he is regularly noticed in his travels and people constantly stop him to say “hi” because they remember him coming to their school. “It leaves an imprint. What I hope happens when I leave Owensboro is that I will have connected with so many of these children who needed this message right now in their life! Whatever they’re dealing with, and whatever is going on in their life, they will have heard Retro Bill and it reminds them to get back on their positive channel. Or to stop letting somebody have power over me today.”
The school presentations were a collaboration between Independence Bank and Owensboro Police Department, who co-sponsored Retro Bill’s school assembly presentations in Owensboro. “It’s been an honor to work with Independence Bank and OPD and I have a feeling based on the positive reception and goodwill so far, I’ll be back soon,” Bill said.