Mr. Les Schmidt was a guest for our elementary school’s annual Twilight Staff Retreat. The retreat is centered around giving 40 staff (Teachers, Custodians, Early Childhood Educators, Educational Assistants, Youth Worker, Special Education Teacher, Secretaries) an opportunity to rekindle those special reasons we need to remind ourselves of why we began working with young people, while at the same time remembering how important it is to support ourselves and each other in this amazing, but equally challenging vocation. For a few hours, we gathered to talk, pray, laugh and eat together while engaging in some real conversation of our needs, our strengths, our hopes and our fears. Mr. Schmidt was so very well received by our eclectic group, despite the few hours he spent with our staff that evening. We know this by the personal connections he made with several of them, even after the evening concluded. Staff feedback to our organizing team revealed he was honest, real, humorous, engaging, reflective and igniting of a renewed sense of hope and competence for all, in school AND in life. We appreciated how Les met with us weeks prior to the event – to understand our staff, know our challenges and learn what goals we were pursuing as a team. Les followed through on this authentic plan, balancing sharing his own personal life experiences as a son, a parent, and as a teacher in education, with individual/pair and group sharing; allowing people to make sense of and build connections with their own “lived” experience. Whether it was about taking care of our own mental health or how we can gain wisdom from all of our encounters with students - Les was optimistic, hopeful and emanated a sense of gratitude and belief in all people; in all of our awkwardness, brokenness and complexity. We laughed, we cried, we remembered to step back, breathe and go back in again! His sense of vulnerability rubbed off on our own staff and no doubt, gave us the very courage, affirmation and belief we needed from that evening to continue to ignite the light in others. Thank you Mr. Energy!"
Rob Della Croce, Principal and "Lead Learner"
St. Paul Catholic Elementary School
"Les Schmidt is known and respected by Guelph and residents as a longtime resident, teacher, guidance counsellor and coach. His enthusiasm is contagious and he has a unique ability to connect with young people and recognize what matters most to them. His presentation on dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly of living with mental illness is inspiring and encourages those struggling with depression and bipolar disorder to seek help. He discusses ways of managing mental illness in order to live a normal, meaningful and fulfilling life. Les promotes breaking the cycle of mental illness and creating a sense of hopefulness for the future. He capably explores the significance of coping strategies for those struggling to recognize and manage mental illness. Les has a vast amount of experience in dealing with his illness openly and publicly. He is an advocate of dealing with mental health and recognizes the potential risks and perils of not doing so. I would enthusiastically recommend his presentation to those wishing to cultivate awareness, acceptance and a positive attitude towards mental health issues."
Detective Staff Sergeant Tom Gill
Investigative Support Division
"I have known Les Schmidt for over thirty years as a teacher ,coach and friend. I have discovered his sincere empathy to work with parents, students, and co-workers. As an inspirational presenter he speaks from life experience and his heart, he will touch yours. His positive energy on life is demonstrated through his love of teaching , love of people and his philosophy " Life is a Celebration " He encourages independence and inner strength combined with an inner and outer support group... Les tells a story of hope and success through adversity and encourages others to create a personal wellness action plan when dealing with mental health challenges."
"Your high-level wellness presentation certainly lived up to your reputation. The music, your dancing, and the group interaction was not only fun but left a huge impact on all of us."
Campus Recreation Manager
"I do believe that you succeeded in uplifting our staff and board members and inspired us with some very positive messages about wellness and its importance and impact."
Coordinator Community Relations
Family and Children Services, Guelph
"Your presentation exceeded my expectations. Your tremendous enthusiasm, knowledge, and sincere positive energy made us realize the importance of our well-being. We will benefit from your presentation and never forget."
North American Life Insurance
"You have changed my understanding of mental health and how it affects all of us"
"Your personal story was inspiring, from the heart and full of hope"
"Many of my friends have depression and high anxiety and your presentation provided empathy and hope"
"You provided real life wellness skills that will help me deal with mental illness in my everyday life"
Bishop Macdonell High School