Natalija Žalec, Slovenian Institute for Adult Education

Mitja’s storytelling spoke to and motivated many participants of the PUM-O programme, who attended the event, because his speech was spontaneous and convincing, and his noteworthy achievements deserving of great respect. Mitja’s words touched the audience’s hearts and gave everyone renewed hope; not only to the participants, but also their close ones and to the professionals whose work revolves around helping people with problems that Mitja conquered. Several of the attendees approached him after the event, while others asked us for his contacts, wishing to reach him.

What’s also admirable is that Mitja still volunteers at PUM-O under LU Radovljica as an outside mentor, helping individual participants reach their personal goals.

Sara Čarman, student at Economic Gymnasium and High School (EGSŠ) in Radovljica​

I personally found Mitja’s speech to be excellent. It was a positive surprise, since we’ve gotten plenty of boring, uninspired guests and presentations, while this one truly grabbed my attention. I’m personally battling similar problems to what Mitja used to deal with and his speech gave me the hope and strength I needed to push on and work on my goals – the strength I needed for a long time, yet couldn’t find anywhere, until I heard Mitja’s story. Hearing it was inspiring and gave me goospebumps. It’s amazing how he went from total hopelessness to ejoying life to the fullest. I have several attempted suicides in my past and I really want to learn to enjoy life and love myself. The presentation meant a lot to me and gave me the strength I needed to start turning my life around.

Manca Japelj, student at Economic Gymnasium and High School (EGSŠ) in Radovljica

The speech renewed the motivation I’ve been losing lately. I was worrying that my best efforts won’t be enough to achieve my dream of writing and publishing a book, but Mitja’s speech renewed my faith in myself, because he told us how he overcame massive challenges with small, achievable steps. His speech also helped me see my problem of loneliness in a different light – I realized that I’m enough, as long as I put in the effort and make the best use of my talents. I now know that I can change the things I want to change. I would like to thank you, Mitja, for opening my eyes and making sure I don’t give up.

Anamarija Rutar, student at Economic Gymnasium and High School (EGSŠ) in Radovljic

I feel like mental illness is still a taboo subject, despite the fact that more and more people I personally know are seeking professional help for mental health-related reasons. This is why I believe that spreading information about mental health is important. Mitja does just that with his speeches, in addition to giving his fellow young people motivation, advice, and spreading positivity. I also recieve professional health because of similar problems. I had a difficult time in my family and got depression in primary school, yet I didn’t know what was happening and thought my experiences were “normal”. But these unrecognised problems only grew. I failed first and second year of high school, but I’m slowly getting back on my feet. From my own experience, I can safely say that Mitja is doing a very important job with his speeches.

Alenka Rozman, professor at Economic Gymnasium and High School (EGSŠ) in Radovljica

Mitja has delivered one of the most persuasive and compelling speeches I have ever heard in secondary education. Having been really open, frank, straightforward, and down-to-earth, he left the listeners, actually his peers, speechless, making a profound impact on them. If they refuse to believe te world of adults which tries to warn them about the negative effects of overeating and other bad habits, they surely believed Mitja and started to see the problem of addictions from a different perspective.

His Powerpoint presentation was well-organised and his speech fluent and riveting as well.

Primož Zorko, professor at EGSŠ in Radovljica

Mitja was a student of mine in the past. As time went on, I steadily began to notice his massive transformation. His perseverance, dedication to sports, and results greatly impressed me, so I strongly support his decision to come and share his positive experience with our students, because I believe that every young person experiences distress in some form or another as part of their personal development. With his presentation, Mitja shows that it’s perfectly acceptable to share one’s problems with others and solve them together. His speeches also encourage students to find their paths in life. Mitja was especially convincing to our students because he is roughly their age. The effect of his presentation was plain to see from the respect and attentive listening he garnered from the students throughout the speech.

Miša Golja, student at Economic Gymnasium and High School (EGSŠ) in Radovljica​

The speech was impressive and I think it’s great that someone is willing to share a story like this with other young people. It left me feeling inspired and made me and my friend decide to be much more sensitive towards people with mental issues.

A student at EGSŠ in Radovljica (they wished to stay anonymus)​

I honstly didn’t know that there are people out there, who can speak as openly about their past problems as Mitja did. In my opinion, opening up like that is far from easy, especially with a story like Mitja’s. While I feel sorry for what he had to go through, I simply can’t see him as anything other than a hero after hearing his speech. I think that with Mitja’s continued work, people will undoubtedly begin to realize just how much is truly possible if we’re willing to put in the work.

Nastja Merc, mentor at PUM-O Radovljica​

Mitja’s story is truly powerful and left a clear mark on PUM-O’s members. It has a positive effect on young people, because the story is presented in a way they can relate to, while also providing proof that they can overcome the obstacles life throws at them. Part of his message’s strength comes from its ability to crush prejudice, as Mitja speaks openly about subjects that have unfairly remained taboo in today’s society. He clearly shows that people without problems don’t exist and demonstrates the importance of talking about our problems and seeking help when necessary. Mitja is an exceptionally capable, bright young man with a wide array of life experiences, which make his speech powerful and emotional. With his passion and dedication, he motivated an overweight member of PUM-O to steer his life in a healthier direction (sports, healthy food, positivity, hope). Mitja also stands by his side and mentors him in this process of transformation. The impact of his story is greatly increased by the fact that he’s an excellent speaker, as well as well-prepared in advance for his presentations. He backs up his personal story with scientific information, interweaving the two in a way that keeps the presentation both enjoyable and informative.

Edit Aleša Capuder, member of PUM-O Radovljica

Depression, anxiety etc. are my old “acquaintances”. Mitja’s speech pulled me in with its positive and humorous style alone. While I haven’t struggled with every problem Mitja spoke about, his story opened my eyes and gave me both hope and guidelines for overcoming my own challenges. There’s always time, but it’s on us to make smart use of it, to begin working on ourselves, and continue to do so, because advisors, therapists, and medical aid can only guide and help us, but it’s on each individual to do what it takes to get their mind in order. In addition to inspiring me to do just that, the speech also had a strong emotional impact. I empathized with Mitja as he spoke of his past. I imagined what it was like to be completely misunderstood as he dealt with all of his problems. Yet he picked himself up and won the struggle against his own mind. The difficult path with a happy end not only motivated me, but made me feel great respect for Mitja. On top of that, I learned some surprising and interesting facts (such as the OCD symptoms of Nikola Tesla), which serve as proof that stigma and the association of mental issues with incompetence is completely false.

Paulina Krasnići, member of PUM-O Maribor​

I am grateful for the opportunity to hear Mitja’s story, because it taught me that there truly are no excuses to ever give up in life. It inspired me to face my problems with a smile. Seeing someone open up about such problems in front of an audience showed me that there’s nothing wrong with sharing my problems with others and asking for help when I need it. I’m very happy to have attended Mitja’s speech.

Alen Ozim, member of PUM-O Maribor​

A high quality presentation with valuable information and life lessons. I personally gained a great deal of motivation from it, so I hope to attend Mitja’s speeches again in the future.

Reviews by students at the France Prešeren Gymnasium in Kranj​

1. The speech grabbed my attention because Mitja made use of humor that’s relevant to our generation. He joked around with us a lot and encouraged our active participation. Instead of acting uptight, he weaved comments from the public into his performance, creating a presentation that was as informative as it was funny and entertaining.

2. Mitja’s speech was very effective at getting us to both listen and speak up. He pulled us into discussion as easily as he regained silence and attention when he needed to. He spoke loudly and clearly, so even those of us who sat in the back row were able to hear his story without any problems. I particularly enjoyed his use of relevant memes throughout the presentation.

3. The presentation was very educational, as Mitja gave us practical life tips, which he was able to test in his own experience. I’m sure the things we learned will help me and others deal with everyday challenges of life. I wish we had more events like this one.

4. Mitja clearly put a lot of love and effort into this event. He got very “into” his story, winning both our interest and empathy with his passion. We all listened with great enthusiasm and I hope we get to see more presentations like this one at our school.

5. The speech gave us a lot of useful and honest truths about facing problems with self-esteem and mental health. Mitja explained the important role of sports in solving such problems and motivated me to work even harder on my own sports-related ambitions.

6. The presentation was both educational and entertaining, especially because of Mitja’s great energy and powerful use of stories from his personal life. His examples of famous people whose lives have been plagued by mental illness brought our attention to the fact that such problems are largely misunderstood and underestimated. Mitja’s powerful enthusiasm and energy convinced me that I really can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

7. Mitja’s complete transformation is inspiring – he went from crippling anxiety and inertness, to sports and public performance. I especially enjoyed his use of metaphors to more effectively convey his points.

8. Mitja’s story and relaxed, friendly approach inspired me. Seeing what he’d overcome, I’m now convinced that I can conquer my own problems and reach my goals too, as long as I keep fighting until the end.

9. The presentation was especially effective because the speaker is young and relatable, thus he was really able to grab our attention. By sharing his own powerful experiences, he was able to show me and my colleagues that all of us can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

10. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, because I love hearing things that challenge my views and make me think. Mitja’s speech also motivated me to work hard on my future goals.

11. Mitja’s speech was very interesting, as well as inspirational. I especially enjoyed his way of speaking and his openness about all the difficulties he had faced. I really do feel like his story and the things we learned from it will help me in life. The duration of the speech was perfect, keeping our attention throughout the entire event.

12. The presentation showed me the importance of perseverence and motivation, the dangers of underestimating ourselves and the reality of the fact that we can achieve far more than we (or others) could possibly imagine. He conveyed this useful information in a way that was clear and funny, effectively pulling us into his story and releasing tension with the humorous use of memes.

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