I think the most important thing I learned is to help others and be myself!
-Grade 5/6 Student
Today we had a guest speaker, his name is Dwayne Peace. He was a police officer who lives in Calgary who now speaks at schools about drugs, suicide, alcohol, and bullying. He touched a really deep place in my heart. I learnt a lot of new things like how to support someone who is having suicidal thoughts. He also told me that he believed in me and that I’m amazing. It has never felt so good to hear those words, they made me believe in myself. My social responsibility is that I feel I want to do that to other people. I want to boost their self confidence . I also want to be as positive as I can. I think the most important thing is that we are all equal. This has been one of the best/emotional days of my life!
–Grade 5/6 student
Dwayne Peace visited my grade 5/6 classroom on a crazy Friday where the power was out, but luckily came on just before classes started. The hectic morning of wondering whether school was on or not really had everyone’s nerves heightened, not to mention it was Friday. When I met Dwayne for the first time, the first thing he said to me was, “your smile looks good on you”. Honestly, I will never forget that or the day i had with him and my grade 5/6 class. Right from the beginning I knew he was what my class needed. He has an empowering way of telling you the truth, lifting you up, and encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone because he believes you are capable of moving mountains, and making the world a better place. It only takes one person to make a change and he proves that with the impact he has left– not only on my students, but me as well. He’s inspired my students to make positive choices and has left the responsibility in their hands. I cannot thank him enough for his time and genuine impact.
–Jesse Sawka, Teacher at Hillmond Central School Grade 5/6
I want to thank you for the time you spent with our school this past week. Working with our junior high students, our grade 4-6’s, our parents and staff, you’ve given us much to think about!
Your sessions were powerful, intense, very practical and deeply motivating. We’ve already seen that your time with our junior high students has ‘struck home’ with many of them … inspiring visible attitude changes within days of the session.
Our parents found the evening parent session to be very valuable and want to have your message made available to their other children who are not in our school. I’m hoping that we can repeat the parent session and get more parents the second time around!
The Professional Development day you spent with our staff was conceivably the best session we’ve ever had in terms of building relationships and personal development. I believe that the vulnerability and honesty that day will lead our staff to personal and relational growth which can have profound, positive impacts for our students!
I’m so glad that one of our parents had heard about your work and pointed us in your direction. Your message is one we needed at this time and we appreciate how you’ve made yourself available to our staff and parents on an ongoing basis. We’ll be looking forward to continuing to partner with you in service of our students and their families!
Until next time, please accept my personal thanks for what you’ve given us through your presentations and workshops!
Valhalla Community School
I want to thank you for coming to Penn State University to the Beaver, Shenango, and New Kensington campuses in August. I cannot tell you the impact that you left on our University.
For the last several years, Penn State has been rebuilding since 2011 when we learned that one of our own had damaged the reputation of our University and the lives of so many children and adults, and the community in general. Your program in my opinion is what our University needs as we continue to heal. I believe that it is very important for us to take advantage of these opportunities to understand human behavior and how we can support each other.
You came to my school sometime in April this year. I had recently gotten out of the hospital after a failed suicide attempt, and then a relapse of self harm. When I met you I was a complete mess and that’s an understatement. I found out I was bipolar. I struggled with my road to recovery. The worst was the panic and anxiety attacks, I would hit myself, pull my hair out and scream that I wanted to die.
Looking at me now you wouldn’t think I was the same person. It was February 28th 2016 when I tried to kill myself, it is now August 24th 2016. That’s almost 6 months. I have goals, I have a future, most importantly I have confidence. I`m not afraid anymore.
When I first heard you were speaking at my school I thought “oh great another person hear to preach at me about how I’m worth it, how much I’m loved…. blah blah blah” I`m sorry to say but at first I was not interested at all. But when I met you, I knew something different was going to happen. Throughout your presentation you talked about drinking, drugs, mental illness and self harm. All of these things applied to me (notice I used past tense) I did drink , smoke pot and lets just say I wasn’t the most stable in the mental department. This all changed when I moved into my grandparents house. You also talked about self worth, which again related to me. I wasn’t confident, I constantly wanted to impress others, I wanted to be skinny so guys would pay attention to me, I wanted to be smart so my parents would love me.
You’re presentation set off a spark, I started working harder. Not for the people around me, friends, family, boys, no I was doing it for me. Because finally I discovered my voice, no longer would I let people walk all over me, let my parents judge me and criticize me, or let boys decide my worth on a 1-10 scale. I learned how to stick up for myself and what I believe in, so when people make jokes about mental illness, self harm, the handicapable….I no longer hide with nervous laughter. I stick up for those who don’t have a voice or haven’t found there’s yet.
I believe in myself, I can do anything I put my mind to. My plans for the future change often, but I have found a few that might become a reality.
My dreams may be mediocre or average but I don’t care because each one has something I`m passionate about involved. This is my story and I thought since you are one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure of talking to. You helped me and believed in me when even I didn’t.
After your Presentation, when everyone was gone. I was crying, when I came up to you, you hugged me and told me to stay strong and never give up. Today I live by those words.
I have gotten my life under control. my anxiety is still there of course, and so is my bipolar…..but now I don’t let it control me or the decisions I make.
Thank you so much Mr. peace,
I’ll keep in touch
The girl who was inspired (Grade 11)
Good afternoon Dwayne, I was at the parent evening last night. My daughter (grade 11) was in your group session and my son (grade nine) also listened to you speak. I wanted to say thank you. Such a powerful message and so simple to understand. In today’s society it is very easy to get caught up in negativity.
After the session yesterday a girl spoke to my daughter and said very kind words in regards to what she shared in the small group session. It also opened up a path of conversation between her and a friend who had gone there separate ways. Such a positive impact in such a short amount of time. She was glowing with inspiration last night.
I am not entirely sure why I feel the need to share this with you.(I am not a big sharer outside our family) I left your session thinking; we are on the right track…but how can we do better? These thoughts are in a positive manner. If a person can take some of your information and put it to use in everyday life….what a different world we would live in.
I have emailed the principle as well thanking him for having you speak at our school and encouraged more of this interaction would be wonderful.
Thank you again for taking the time with the students/parents. You are very inspiring.
(Mom of two participants)
Rev. Dr. Murray Swalm
Life does not always follow a direct path. We need people who help us along that journey and Murray loves to come alongside others to help them grow. That’s why he believes in the work that Dwayne does through Life Synergy for Youth and wants to help in any way he can.
Murray has served as a Pastor for the past 32 years in Calgary. He has worked with people from all kinds of backgrounds dealing with various issues. He knows that everyone has worth and that every life matters – they matter to God. We need to listen as much as we speak. He has mentored many people, worked through conflict, help set future direction and walked with people in their harder times.
Murray is married to his wife Lorrie for 41 years. They have two married children and love investing their lives in the their 7 grandchildren.
Dwayne and Murray have been friends for many years. They love to find at least a little time to golf and hike when they can. It is good to be part of something that brings hope and encouragement to so many young people.