What People Have to Say

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Former rock band drummer shares lesson of acceptance

Fri Mar 22 2013
Byline: Thomas Miller
Source: Rocky View Publishing

Mitch Dorge returned to Airdrie on March 12 with a message aimed at those who pass judgment.

The Crash Test Dummies drummer tours the country speaking to students of all ages promoting this message, along with encouraging young people to play music and informing them on how drugs and alcohol can impede their success.

Dorge brought several students in front of the crowd to help him demonstrate difficulties people with disabilities might have. For instance he had some students try on clothes without the use of their thumbs.

St. Martin de Porres Grade 11 student Douglas Fixter was one of the young people who participated in Dorge’s presentation. Fixter had to place two large lemon slices in his mouth to simulate the difficulties someone with cerebral palsy would have trying to speak. Like many kids, Fixter says he was picked on when he was younger so the laughter of the crowd didn’t bother him when he attempted to talk. In fact, he took some valuable lessons away from the presentation.

“Take time to speak with people and don’t judge them right away,” said Fixter of what he learned from Dorge’s presentation. “I’ve been raised like that but this has given me another viewpoint of it.”

Dorge said another important facet of his presentation is that we should care more about our actions as opposed to the credit we receive for them.

“No matter what the problem is that we’re trying to tackle, whether it be drinking and driving, a drug issue, world hunger, the local food bank, whatever,” he said. “We become very discouraged as human beings because our efforts aren’t seen on a grand scale.

“We need to see some large results, large payoff.”

He listed experiences from his life where just doing something small like taking the time to listen to someone’s problems had a much bigger impact than he knew at the time.

Instances like that made him realize the importance of inclusion.

“Everybody needs to be included regardless of our perception of who they are or what they are,” continued Dorge. “Realizing that every effort that you make, on any level . every effort you make is recognized and makes a difference.

“I personally believe that each and every kid here is intelligent, they know the right choices, whether they make them or not is another story. I’m just trying to leave them with the thought that I know that you can change the world given the opportunity.”

He added that it’s not just a select few who can do so, either. He said that he became a successful drummer not simply because he was more talented than others.

“It’s not because I have any amount of talent that supersedes anybody else’s, it’s because I showed up on time,” he explained. “It’s because we would make an arrangement and I would remember it. It was because I took time to be a kind person. That’s what got me through it.

“Whether you’re a hockey player, writer, musician, whatever, if you’re not with the program there’s somebody right behind you who’s as creative and talented as you are. The difference between you and the next person is the fact that you showed up on time. It’s the little things that give people the edge these days.”

Kimberley Acheson, who manages commercial and business insurance for The Co-operators Rockyview Insurance Services and helped bring Dorge to Airdrie, finished her breast cancer treatments in April 2012. Having been bald not too long ago, Acheson knows what it’s like to be judged by others and says the message was beneficial, even for her.

“I think people do look at you differently but it’s how you feel about it that makes it what it is,” she said. “For me attitude is everything and you can beat anything.

“You see it out there and I’m guilty of it to, so I really appreciate the message.”

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Ex-Crash Test Dummies drummer to speak at schools Speaker Mitch Dorge tours with The Co-operators insurance group to educate young people about drug and alcohol dangers

Feb 2, 2013
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal

MIRAMICHI – He won’t be here as one of the Crash Test Dummies, but the band’s former drummer Mitch Dorge will be educating the minds of youth in the area when he visits six of the Miramichi region’s schools.

Dorge, who is partnered with The Co-operators insurance group, will be talking to youth in both middle and high schools about a number of key issues with regards to substance abuse awareness.

The District 6 RCMP Blackville office will be partnering with The Co-operators group to bring Dorge to the area.

Shelley Donahue, community programs officer with District 6 RCMP, said nationally Canadian youth are a “top priority for the RCMP,” who continuously look to educate younger citizens on the impact of drugs and alcohol.

Dorge will be doing just that with youth from around the area. During his motivational speech, he will show evidence of the impact of drugs and alcohol by showing a healthy brain versus a brain with substance abuse, to sharing a story about impaired driving. He will also discuss the overall aspects of maintaining a positive attitude when it comes to choices people may face about substance abuse.

“We’re always looking at creative ways of getting information out there about drugs and alcohol, and how serious it is and the consequences of experimenting or becoming involved in the drug culture,” Donahue said. “And we just thought if we got somebody that the kids could relate to or may of heard of or somebody that’s different, motivational, and to come and speak, it may keep their attention or catch their eye.”

Donahue, who also works with Central New Brunswick Academy, said Dorge was scheduled to be one of the guest speakers at the school on Feb. 7 during a wellness day. After accepting, the former drummer suggested visiting a few schools within the area during his time in the province’s northern community. Donahue then picked the schools within the District 6 jurisdiction and the six-school tour unfolded from there.

The six schools will consist of James M. Hill Memorial High School, Blackville School, North and South Esk elementary and high schools, Esgenoopetitj School and Central New Brunswick Academy.

Donahue said while she hasn’t personally seen Dorge in action during his motivational talk, she has heard a number of positive experiences others have taken from his presentations.

“I’ve heard he’s amazing,” said Donahue. “He’s very interactive, he has a lot of props, he gets the kids

involved.”

Donahue said she wants to be surprised by Dorge’s presentation, and although his presentation is recorded on YouTube, she hasn’t watched it.

Dorge gives a motivational speech called In Your Face – And Interactive, and has spoken at other schools across the province and the country.

The Crash Test Dummies are originally from Winnipeg, and had major musical hits such as “Superman” and “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.”

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May 8th, 2013
To Whom It May Concern;

Our school community recently hosted an In Your Face and Interactive Presentation by
Mitch Dorge to our entire school community of grade nines through to twelve. This opportunity was made available to our student body largely in part to the initiative and partnership with the Co-operators Business Organization.

The presentation claims to take an honest and intense look at responsible choices and attempts to engage young adults between 12 and 18 throughout a two-hour presentation to set goals for themselves and to make choices that will help them get there. If that was the learning goal, than the data received back from our students and staff was certainly indicative that Mitch hit the target. Students’ emotional responses and focus were “tuned in” throughout the entire presentation. Moreover, the students were noted as having many productive conversations following the presentation, both with their peers and with their teachers. Student voice gathered through school surveys and focus meetings also supported the fact that our students were moved by the assembly, not just entertained, but frankly challenged to think about things differently than they have before. Moreover, it was refreshing to share Mitch’s musical passion and humour, a good role model for our students when we have typically had many athletically profiled speakers. No doubt, this certainly reached many students.

Thus, if the concentration on the student’s faces or the laughter of the teachers was any indication of Mitch’s effectiveness, then our school community would certainly recommend other schools consider this presentation to their own community. It can fit nicely with many proactive and strength-based and character education initiatives that schools are facilitating to build community, culture and caring. Ultimately, the themes and big ideas that stick out in the presentation make for good anchor points in conversations with our young people, and they are more likely to engage in this because of the thought-provoking, challenging and invitational manner in which Mitch delivers his message.

Yours in learning,

Robert Della Croce

Vice-Principal
Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School Guelph, Ontario

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Friends-NBW

November 22, 2010

The Cooperators

Dear Celeste,

First, please accept my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Cooperators on behalf of the students and staff of Bonar Law Memorial and Eleanor W. Graham Middle School for the generous support received.

When I first contacted the Cooperators inquiring about their Community Program, never did I imagine what the end result would be. Like most schools today, budgets are not plentiful and there is never any money to spend outside the usual. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that not only was Mitch Dorge from the Crash Test Dummies coming to Rexton, NB but there would be “NO FEE!!!”

Mitch’s presentation was described as “awesome” by our students. Here was a man from Winnipeg, coming into a little community in the middle of New Brunswick and he fit in like no ones business. His down to earth, “no preaching,” to the students sent a stronger message than one would imagine.
His interactive, high energy, enthusiastic approach spoke volumes to our students. One young lady told me after the presentation that it was nice to have a presenter who made us feel we were intelligent we just needed to remind ourselves of that!

Looking into the audience and seeing the smiling faces and hearing the laughter from kids of all ages and walks of life, who were all getting the same message, can be described in one word, “success.”

The feedback from staff and students; “awesome,” “just what we needed,” “can we keep him!” “Will he come back?”

Once again Cooperators, this is a wonderful program and thank you from the bottom of our East Coast hearts!!

Thank you, Merci, We la’lin

Cheryl Warman
Community School Coordinator

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