“Zac was amazing; very interesting and talented guy.”
– Bonnie Nyman, Treasury Office, Finance Department – York Municipality
“It was great. I heard a lot of people fell in love with him!”
– Kevin Cooper, Special Projects Coordinator, Executive Office, Homeward Trust Edmonton
“We were delighted to have Zac Crouse speak and perform at our Contact Atlantic Conference in Fredericton on October 29, 2014. We had a tall order to fill … we wanted someone to help our delegates understand how to best deal with mental health issues and we wanted our group to be able to relax, laugh some and be entertained after a long day of conference sessions. Zac fit the bill perfectly. He was able to share with the group his own struggles with mental health and wellness and he spoke about the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on his life, but he did it in a light-hearted, real-world manner. He also entertained us with a few tunes on his banjo and with his great singing voice. Big thanks to Limelight for recommending Zac to us, and thanks as well to Zac for coming to Fredericton and sharing his story with our group. Cheers!”
– Cheryl Steadman, Membership & Operations Manager, ContactNB
“Zac Crouse has a real talent for connecting with his audience. His ability to make people laugh while sharing such a difficult story is remarkable. I was one of the 650 people he held in the palm of his hand during a recent Living with Mental Illness and Addiction Conference in Sydney. His positive attitude and energy filled the room with hope and optimism.”
-– Starr Dobson, Executive Director, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia
“Zac’s journey and story resonated with Laing house members. He was completely honest about his personal journey and how hard it was, and still is. He made them truly believe that they have the ability to take action in their own recovery, and I’m sure they will.”
– Sarah Murphy, Community Support Staff, Laing House
"Zac did a fantastic job and our conference ended on a high note. Even after a day and a half of meetings and social events the participants were engaged - Zac had their full attention. The evaluations reflected what I saw in the room, people appreciated his honesty, enjoyed his humour and found him entertaining while still taking away meaningful insight on caring for their own mental health as well as the members they represent."
—Catherine Pinks - The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
“It was a successful conference and Zac’s keynote address was well received. Very positive comments from participants. Zac connected well with the audience and with the conference theme – Change, Challenge and Opportunity. I would not hesitate to recommend him as a speakers for other conferences – NSCC, Associations and other organizations.”
– Lisa Smith, Community College Local
Zac Crouse (M.Ed, CTRS) is a recreation therapist, musician & expedition kayaker who delivers keynote presentations and workshops focusing on mental health, recreation and leadership.
Zac has a unique ability to discuss sensitive topics with respect and humour. His presentations are designed to engage and entertain the audience through stories, film and live music.
Zac has worked for over 17 years as a frontline practitioner with at-risk youth & families. He specializes in working with individuals who have mental health and substance use issues; and has an extensive background in adventure therapy and eco-therapy.
Zac has instructed at St. FX University for the Faculty of Education and at Dalhousie University for the Faculty of Health & Human Performance. Zac is a contributing author to Quality Lesson Plans in Outdoor Education (Human Kinetics). He has also acted as a consultant in Belize on a national citizenship curriculum for youth. Zac is currently an instructor at the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Health Sciences.
In 2013 Zac released the film Paddle To The Ocean – a documentary about Zac’s use of recreation therapy as part of his treatment for PTSD. He uses this film as part of his work as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator on the topics of mental health, leadership and recreation therapy.
In addition to paddling class IV+ white water in Uganda, Mexico, the USA & Canada; Zac has circumnavigated the islands of Newfoundland (2006 – sea kayak) and Cape Breton (2002 – canoe) and travelled from Ottawa ON to Halifax NS using only self-propelled transportation (2011 – sea kayak & bicycle).
Zac is extensively certified in water-based sports through Paddle Canada [canoe, kayak, paddle board]
What can you expect from a keynote presentation by Zac Crouse?
Zac uses stories, original music and clips from his documentary film ‘Paddle To The Ocean’ to engage, entertain and empower. His ability to explore sensitive topics in an honest, respectful & light hearted matter allows participants to gain insight into his recreation therapy self-practice and unique approach to recovery from PTSD.
Topics include the stigma surrounding mental illness, the links between mental health and recreation, and leadership development.
Zac draws from personal experiences and adventures – using humour, anecdotes and theory – to illustrate points and facilitate connection with the audience. He’ll explain why it’s a bad idea to joke with police in rural Oklahoma; and why you should always say “Yes!” to an invitation for Tea in outport Newfoundland.
Participants will walk away with practical tips to help them make time for the things they love while improving their quality of life.
Mental Illness – It’s Time To Stop Being Weird About It
Why is it that we treat individuals with mental illness differently than we do those with an illness of the body?
How does stigma restrict treatment opportunities for those seeking to improve their mental health?
Zac discusses these questions and shares his personal experiences in dealing with our health system. His central message: recreation is essential for mental wellness; because it provides opportunities for regular physical activity and creative outlets within a framework that is more sustainable than traditional treatment approaches.
Zac encourages participants to explore their own passions and interests as a way of improving overall quality of life.
Leadership Through Failure
By embracing and celebrating failure you can achieve more, with less anxiety and wasted energy. Instead of viewing failure as the end; Zac helps participants to see failure as an opportunity for learning – one stage in a circular model of growth and change.
Employ strategies such as prototyping. Discuss consensus vs coercion approaches to motivation. Be brave enough to to ask yourself the question – “What kind of leader am I?”
Zac will share hard earned wisdom – such as why a job interview is the wrong place to try out a new joke; and sarcasm does not help build rapport with at-risk youth.
Dare To Be Bored
Learning to cope with boredom is an essential life skill. Many people are uncomfortable being alone with their thoughts – no distractions, no connectivity. Just…you.
Critically examine the growing trend of pathologizing boredom; as though it were a serious illness or a problem to be solved. Learn how to stop falling into the role of entertainment director for your family. Teach the young people in your life to take responsibility for their own time. Allow your brain the time & space it needs to process life’s unexpected hurdles.
Discover the benefits of boredom, the skills that it teaches us, and how striving to eliminating it contributes to exhaustion and anxiety.