Student Athletes experience both the Olympic and Paralympic Movement through Experiential Education
On February 22, 2019, fifteen Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) student athletes were given a very special opportunity. These high-performance athletes engaged in learning about Canada's sport system at large.
Students visited the headquarters of the Canadian Olympic Committee to gain a better understanding of what leading sport organizations do for high performance athletics at national and international levels. They were given a tour of the office from employees, who shared a broader understanding of careers in sport and provided perspective on what it means to hopefully wear the maple leaf one day.
"I wanted our students to take away important messages that would leave them nothing short of inspired and motivated," says DDSB physical educator and employee of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Shannon Galea. "This is where it begins, where they understand how limitless their world and dreams can be and how they choose to role-model themselves for others, to leave a legacy."
The students also travelled to the University of Toronto's Field House to help coordinate a corporate fundraiser for Canadian Paralympians, the ParaTough Cup. It's a unique event hosted by the Paralympic Foundation of Canada and Canadian Paralympic Committee, where corporate sponsors battle it out on the playing field to raise funds.
"Today, was a once in a lifetime opportunity to volunteer at a place where not many people get to see the culture of Paralympic athletes. You get that much more respect for the tenacity and the dedication of those who have challenges to overcome," says Kalen Haggarty, Grade 11 student from Uxbridge Secondary School.
Kalen and the other ASAD students were given the opportunity to engage in adaptive sports for the day while meeting Paralympians. Students participated in the running of various challenges for the corporate sponsors and some were given the opportunity to participate in the various athletic challenges. Together, they learned knew skills and gained newfound respect for what it takes to be a Paralympian.
"I really enjoyed being introduced to all these different inclusive sports. I had no idea sitting-volleyball was a thing. It was just eye-opening for me," expresses Willo Thomas, a Grade 10 student from Henry Street High School.
It was a very empowering day for these young individuals as they represented the DDSB. The students were amazed by the whole new world of adaptive sport, the grit and determination it takes to be successful, and what sport for all truly embodies.
"If we can educate the importance of both the Paralympic and Olympic Movement inclusively in our own organizational structures, I firmly believe our messaging will engage our youth differently by seeing the bigger picture to the power of sport and the importance to health and physical education," Galea says.
Photo 1: ASAD students visited the headquarters of the Canadian Olympic Committee in Toronto to gain an insider's perspective on what world leading sport organizations, such as Team Canada, do for high performance sport.
Photo 2: Kalen Haggarty in full spin as he learns the difficulty of taking full strides as a wheelchair sprinter.
Photo 3: Sportswriter and broadcaster Scott Russell hanging by the scoreboard with students Willo Thomas and Steven Bozios.
Photo 4: Students (front to back) Victoria Tees, Kobe Faust, Sam Marler, Ethan Powel and Willo Thomas, took on Paralympian Cindy Ouellet (wearing the red hat) in a friendly wheelchair race. Cindy is both a summer and winter Paralympian for wheelchair basketball and sitting cross-country skiing.