In the spring of 2009, while white-water kayaking in Nova Scotia; Zac witnessed the death of his close friend. The incident left Zac with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For over a decade, Zac has been teaching others the benefits of recreational therapy. It was time for Zac to take his own advice and put his experience to good use. Years of being a touring musician in Canada motivated Zac to explore alternative transportation methods for his first solo record ‘You Plan to do Nothing’. Choosing only a sea kayak and a bicycle, Zac traveled & played shows from Ottawa, ON to Halifax, NS. Paddle To The Oceanis the story of Zac’s use of kayaking and music as an alternative approach for dealing with PTSD.
Using his passion for music & kayaking as part of his recovery; and to honour a friend by encouraging Canadians to lead a more active lifestyle, Zac paddled his kayak & pedaled his bicycle from Ottawa to Halifax:
– 1050 km on rivers
– 216 km on land
– 250 km on ocean
– 4 world class white-water destinations
– 0 km using gas
Paddle to the Ocean; the documentary film and accompanying soundtrack tell the story. Through his journey, Zac aims to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The mainly solo adventure was accomplished without the use of fossil fuel and designed to be a tool to encourage others to incorporate healthy practices in their lives. Zac tours and speaks to organizations using a combination of live music, story-telling & film.
Musically, Zac has toured throughout Canada & in the US with Multiple ECMA & Music Nova Scotia nominated artists like Caledonia, Acres & Acres and Tanya Davis. His single, ‘So Fine’ has charted multiple times in the Netherlands. The single ‘Scott’s House’ charted #4 on the CBC Radio 3 ‘Top 30’, made the top 103 songs of the year (CBC 3, 2009) & was nominated for an ECMA for Single of the Year.
As a recreation therapist, Zac has worked for over 10 years with young people who have substance use and mental health issues. He holds a Master’s degree in Education and is a popular educator at the number one university in Canada – St. Francis Xavier University – where his classes ‘sell out’ quickly. Zac uses recreation therapy and experiential education techniques to help young people and organizations develop leadership skills and increase resiliency through social, communication and problem solving exercises.
He is an accomplished white-water and expedition sea kayaker and a Paddle Canada sea kayak & canoe instructor. Not your average paddler, he has circumnavigated the island of Newfoundland by sea kayak and Cape Breton Island in a canoe.
Paddle to the Oceanis Filmed and Directed by Kelsey Thompson (Balance, Locals Only)
What can you expect from one of Zac’s keynotes?
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