Steffler Foundation to bring Landsberg to Mitchell - Feb. 21, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The Tanner Steffler Foundation is bringing mental health advocate and long-time Canadian sports broadcaster Michael Landsberg to Mitchell this April on the heels of three successful events in Huron County in the spring of 2017.
The event, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 11, is sponsored by Mitchell’s Ignite the Fight in co-ordination with Mitchell Ringette and with support from the Tanner Steffler Foundation. There will be two events: first a sit-down dinner with Landsberg at the Mitchell Golf Club, followed by an evening conversation with Landsberg at the West Perth Community Centre.
The foundation first brought Landsberg to Huron County last May, starting with a high school student discussion in Exeter, followed by a dinner event at Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company and then a discussion at Memorial Hall in Blyth, all of which were very well attended.
When in Blyth, Landsberg said that he felt all of the same mental health concerns in Huron County would be felt across the country and he hoped there would be a stronger support network amongst friends, families and neighbours in a community like Huron County as opposed to those in large urban centres.
“I think Huron County would be identical to virtually every county this size in this country,” Landsberg said. “The same issues exist everywhere. One asset a small community has is the sense of community where you can hopefully engender a spirit in a community that’s hopefully a safe place for mental health. You can’t do that in a big city.”
Landsberg reiterated this point during his speech at Memorial Hall. He said that having a sense of community can be an excellent jumping-off point for mental health awareness.
When he speaks in larger city centres like Toronto, he said, he’s not speaking to community. Rather, he said, he’s speaking to a number of people who happen to live in the same area, but there isn’t the same sense of community that can be found in smaller towns like those in rural Ontario.
When Landsberg was here in May, 2017, he said that not only was he able to speak with and tell his story to nearly 1,500 people, but he said he felt like he took something away from his time in Huron County as well.
“I felt like I learned a lot. For me it was time really well spent,” Landsberg said. “You have to pick and choose where you go to speak on this subject and it needs to be time well spent and it was. I loved it. I found the level of openness and honesty of the students in the crowd was unlike anything I’d ever seen.”
After realizing he was depressed and subsequently seeking help, Landsberg began to speak publicly about mental health awareness more and more. He and his daughter have since started the Sick Not Weak charity that seeks to end the stigma that mental illness is a weakness in a person, rather than a sickness just like any other physical disease or condition.
As Landsberg has transitioned out of sports broadcasting and has made speaking on mental illness his full-time job, he said he feels like he does more for the world in one day now than he did in his whole career on television.
He said that putting his broadcasting and public speaking skills to work as an advocate for mental health awareness hasn’t been a difficult transition. He’s using the same skills, he said, but he’s dealing with a new subject matter.
“Now, I get to take all the skills that I’ve learned, that I’ve studied, that I’ve benefited from and my experiences and now I get to use them speaking on stage, so it’s not a big leap,” he said. “The subject matter, more than anything is me. I’m sharing my own life experiences and the more I share, the more open I am, the more candid I am, the more effective I am.”
For more information on the event, visit the Tanner Steffler Foundation website or to buy tickets, visit www.eventbrite.ca.