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'I Can and I Did' inspires kids to believe in themselves

'If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right' - Henry Ford
Self-published book by Scott Dietrich, illustrated by Denise Garrido, provides inspiration for kids. Miriam King/Bradford Today

Scott Dietrich and Denise Garrido are a pretty inspiring couple.

She’s a beauty pageant winner – Miss Earth Canada 2008, Miss World Canada 2010, and now Mrs. Galaxy Canada – as well as a black belt in TaeKwon Do, and a scientist, with a degree from Laurentian University.

He’s an award-winning magician and motivational speaker, founder of the ‘School Heroes Unite’ program. 

Together they have produced what Dietrich calls “a book about child empowerment, perseverance and belief in yourself.”

“I Can and I Did!” was written in 2012 by Dietrich - inspired by his own experiences in the classroom. 

"I do teach a lot of magic classes, and I do have a lot of kids say, 'I can't do it'," he said - frustrated by the difficulty of their first magic trick. "That's when I stop the class, and tell them that there are two bad words  - 'can't' and 'never'."

Instead, Dietrich helps them to persevere and overcome the challenge, fostering what he calls "positive doubt... What else did I think I couldn't do, that I can?"

Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” That's the basis of Dietrich's philosophy, and of the book "I Can and I Did!", a story about secrets, surprises, and unlimited possibilities.

Dietrich calls the book "a gift. It just kind of came to me." Written in just two hours, it's the story of Stephanie, who initially gives up on a math problem in frustration. "I can't!" she says - until her grandfather introduces her to Henry Ford's "secret." Not only does she solve the problem, with "Gramp's" help, she discovers that her grandfather is a pilot, and that she too can learn to fly, "but only if you believe you can."

The main protagonist was originally a boy named 'Stephen.' Dietrich decided to change Stephen to Stephanie, because "there's plenty of books about little boys going into aviation. How many are about little girls going into aviation?" he said. 

Garrido did the illustrations, but she wasn’t Dietrich’s first choice. It was only when two other illustrators “bailed” on the project because they were too busy, and he was facing a deadline, that she came on board.

Garrido, who studied art in high school, created the wonderful illustrations and graphics in just four days. It was a classic example of the premise behind the book itself, noted Dietrich: If you think you can, you can.

The husband and wife team have brought their story – and positive message – to kids at libraries, and at shelters, like Blue Door Shelter's Leeder House in York Region.

They both volunteer at the monthly birthday party for kids at Leeder House. Dietrich performs his full birthday party magic show, and teaches the kids a magic trick or two. "At that point we go off on a different tangent, and go into the first part of the book," he says, reading the inspirational story to the children. 

Full of wisdom and encouragement, but never preachy or contrived, “I Can and I Did!” makes kids aware of the magic of believing in themselves. Available from or click here for more information.

Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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