I’m sure you, like us, feel desperately sick to your core seeing or hearing the words SUICIDE and BULLYING in the same sentence far too frequently on media news feeds across your country.
Statistics that 1 in 4 children are bullied in Australian schools every single day is extremely alarming and debilitating to mental health. Leading to self-harming, eating disorders, depression, domestic violence and in the worst cases, suicide.
No child should feel anxious or afraid while earning an education. Every child should be entitled to a safe and nurturing learning environment where they are encouraged to develop into self-reliant and successful adults celebrating their individual uniqueness.
As DREAM GUARDS Michael Bennett and Donna-Leigh Perfect sow the seeds of belief because it is imperative that you believe you are amazing, believe you are strong, believe that you can overcome adversity in your life.
The DREAM GUARDS build resilience, self-esteem, and self-confidence in a new unique way through inspirational magic with messages and empowering real-life story sharing because we have proved that these mediums engage the youth and leave a feeling within them that lasts a lifetime.
As DREAM GUARDS we inspire youth with our unique anti-bullying P.E.A.C.E tools to build resilience and self-confidence. These powerful P.E.A.C.E tools also focus on reversing the culture of bullying by helping transform the bullies from hurters to heroes in your community.
The story of the DREAM GUARDS started when Michael and Donna-Leigh (both kiwi’s living on the Gold Coast) first met in 2012 on an online dating site called RSVP.
From that hilariously unique first date where Michael wore mustache glasses. Gripping under one arm a balloon goofy on a motorbike and the other arm a pink unicorn. Marching across the Burleigh beach reserve with 8 of his closest friends abreast. If that first impression didn’t make a lasting effect on Donna, I don’t know what would. From that day on nothing was going to stop this love blossoming… not even Michael spending two and half months working away on cruise ships as a guest entertainer. As a qualified personal trainer, Donna-Leigh had a passion to curb childhood obesity and wanted to work with kids. A mother of two teenagers herself. One day Donna saw the blue uniform Michael wore as the warm-up character ‘MAD MIKE’ during the Police Academy Stunt Show on a lone hanger tucked away in the wardrobe and said: “Michael, that uniform has got to come back to life again”. With Michael’s skills in magic, balloon artistry and comedy coupled with Donna-Leigh’s fitness and nutrition came the birth of the DREAM GUARDS.
Peoples lives are saved because of the battles that have been won in the past. Let’s step back in time and share a little background about these two extremely passionate soldiers.
Michael Bennett wasn’t like everyone else at school, he was different, he was dyslexic (undiagnosed). Growing up in the 70’s this made homework a contact sport for his father (a soldier from the old school). Michael was constantly bullied for being different and told he was dumb, stupid and wouldn’t amount to anything. This became his daily mantra at home and school. The kids were just as bad. Michael only went to school to eat his peanut butter sandwiches. Calm down people, that was way before peanuts were put on the terrorist list. Today you can wipe out a playground with a Snickers bar, you can wipe out an entire community if you wrap it in gluten. It’s a changed world.
Being a dedicated and committed kinesthetic learner using a combination of visual and auditory techniques Michael learned how to dance, perform gymnastics and gained his control of life studying karate. Leaving school at 15 Michael became a cake and pastry chef and part-time acquired his truck licenses while serving as a territorial soldier in the New Zealand Army driving ambulances for one med battalion and two field hospital.
Michael went on to become a stunt-action performer for 16 years at the Police Academy Stunt Show at Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast, and today is a highly sort after professional comedian/entertainer/magician/mentalist and youth mental health first aider.
Donna-Leigh Perfect was a carefree kid kicking around with her twin brother, older brother, and sister enjoying life and the love of her nursing Mother. In the blink of an eye, Donna’s life changed forever as she witnessed her mother’s life being taken during a domestic violence dispute by the man she called Dad. This trauma would cripple any hardened soul yet as a young seven-year-old it was the reality Donna had to live with for the rest of her life.
Further traumatic events Donna endured after being separated from her siblings and literally tossed around from foster home to foster home chipped away at her self-worth, self-esteem, and self-preservation for the proceeding years.
During these years in foster care, little Donna-Leigh attended 13 schools where she was bullied relentlessly, labeled as different and weird. The bullying continued when she returned to her foster home, here the physical and psychological scars were also embedded on a daily basis. Suffering from trauma, loneliness, and isolation.
At 12 years of age, Donna had a decision to make which again changed the trajectory of her path in life. Confronted by an angry face in a dull suit and faded tie she was told; “Donna you can stay in foster care and take the daily psychological abuse dished out to you till you are 18 and free to leave or you can return to your father who has been released from prison back into the house where he murdered your Mother”. Empathy is needed here, put yourself in Donna’s shoes. Imagine you are 12 and these are your choices. That feeling of anxiousness, despair, and desperation you just felt was to be Donna’s closest companions through her teenage years as she decided to return to live with her father, for no other reason than to be reunited with her twin and older brothers. The following 5 years living with her unpredictable alcoholic father were nothing short of traumatic. Donna’s resilience was tested on every level as she weaved her way through the teenage gauntlet to adulthood.
Donna emerged from a childhood of seemingly insurmountable adversity to become a strong, determined, and dedicated Wife, Mother and women’s ambassador for social justice against domestic violence and this is why Donna is a DREAM GUARD today.
Together Michael and Donna-Leigh are living a life of purpose enriching the lives of our youth with real-life stories and practical tools to empower them to rise and become the amazing unique individuals they were born to be.