The Right To Play National Inspirational Speakers Series kicked off on September 30th. Thanks to generous support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), RTP is offering free educational and inspirational presentations in schools, across Canada, throughout the month of October. This series will span 24 days, collaborating with more than 30 School Boards, reaching 330 schools and over 100,000 students.
The focus of the presentations is two-fold. Firstly, to expose RTP Athlete Ambassadors and their life-changing stories to students, in the hope that they will be inspired to get active, set goals and follow their dreams. Secondly to have RTP representatives share stories of hope from children and youth in Western and francophone Africa.
I've been an Honorary Athlete Ambassador since 2011 and I was thrilled to be asked to go to Prince Edward Island to speak at 10 schools. On Sunday October 20th I arrived at Charlottetown airport and was met by Matt Appleby. Matt is a RTP representative and we would be together for the week. Matt had been on the road since the beginning of October and this would be his fourth week of presentations. As our guide on the island, we were fortunate to have Basil Favaro, a Professor at the Faculty of Education, at the University of P.E.I. I have never met a more passionate educator.
As we visited school after school, Basil would introduce us to teachers he had taught. The schools were mostly in Charlottetown and we had a couple of country schools as well. The group size ranged from 50 to 450 and grades 3 to 9. We had an hour to present and Matt had the students up and down playing games and learning about children from around the world. I spoke about my marathons and Guinness World Records, hoping to inspire them to pursue their goals and engage in an active lifestyle. I asked them for ideas for my 10th Quest. Responses included running the Great Wall of China, swimming around P.E.I. and climbing up Mount Everest then skiing down. My favourite was running a marathon on the moon.
On the Friday morning I went to Sherwood Elementary. There I met up with Tyler Heggie, whom I had met two years ago at the P.E.I. marathon. He was nine years old at the time and running his first marathon. He is now eleven and had recently run the Waterfront Marathon, in Toronto, completing the race in an amazing 4 hours and 1 minute. Last summer he ran P.E.I. tip to tip in seven days. The reason he did it was to raise money for multiple sclerosis. I brought Tyler up to the front of the assembly and explained to the students that it was not what Tyler had done but why.
He is a great kid and a fine example of the Right To Play motto, "Look after yourself, look after one another."