Team Canada Rio Paralympian Tracey Ferguson invests in mentoring Ontario youth
Classroom Champions – Ottawa, Ontario – Amidst three Paralympic Gold Medals, over a decade in the game, and hours of daily training, wheelchair basketball athlete Tracey Ferguson finds time to give back to her community by mentoring over 125 Ontario students.
Paralyzed at the age of nine as a result of spinal surgery, Ontario-born Ferguson discovered wheelchair sports and never looked back, winning her first Gold for Canada at the 1992 Paralympic games and has competed in five Games since. As she prepares to compete again in Rio, she has also spent the last year mentoring at-risk students as a Classroom Champions Mentor.
During the year, Ferguson assigned her students to read “The Farm Team” by Linda Bailey. The book’s plot mirrored Tracey’s lesson – continuously losing, but persevering through hard work and determination and ultimately being successful despite the odds. Students identified a challenge they had in their own lives, what they did to overcome them, and shared them with one another and with Ferguson.
“Seeing the kids in each classroom grow in different ways was amazing to see,” says Ferguson. “They opened up, led food drives, volunteered at seniors homes, and even made toys for dogs at an animal shelter. I learned so much from the creative ways they expressed themselves and how they described their experiences.”
In the last year, Ferguson alone mentored more than 125 students in six classrooms across five different classrooms in low-income schools in Ottawa, Windsor, Merlin, and Ganoque throughout the year, teaching them about perseverance, goal-setting, and community.
“Tracey gave our kids so much inspiration over the course of the year,” says Megan Ducharme, Grade 1-2 teacher at Queen Elizabeth Public School in Ottawa. “And she’s continuing to do so as she heads to Rio, with all of us cheering her on.”
Tracey Ferguson, 3-time Gold Medalist, will be returning to the 2016 Rio Olympics to compete in Wheelchair Basketball. Her first preliminary competition is against Great Britain on September 8.
For more information, please contact:
Communications Manager, Classroom Champions
– 30 –
About Tracey Ferguson
Tracey Ferguson is a 6x Paralympian, 3x Paralympic Gold Medalist and 4x World Champion wheelchair basketball player. Most recently, her team won a solver at the 2015 ParaPan Ams in Toronto.
A native of Ontario, Tracey was delighted to compete in front of the hometown crowd. For the past few years, most her competitions have taken place in Europe where she competes with a professional wheelchair basketball team based in Germany.
Tracey discovered wheelchair sports after spinal surgery left her paralyzed at age 9.
Tracey also holds a BSc in Kinesiology and a MSc in Exercise Physiology. She has worked for Sport Canada, Regional Program Delivery and Finance department. An avid traveler, Tracey’s dog Koda has been to ten countries with her. He often makes guest appearances during her video lessons for her Classroom Champions students. Tracey tries to film her videos while training and traveling, and has challenged her students to learn more about geography. This is her second year as an Athlete Mentor.
About Classroom Champions
Classroom Champions is a non-profit organization founded by 2010 Olympic gold-medalist Steve Mesler and Leigh Mesler Parise, PhD. Leveraging the latest technology and donating it to participating schools, Classroom Champions partners with teachers in underserved schools and transforms their learning environment to enable students to thrive. The organization provides Olympian and Paralympian Mentors to classrooms of at-risk students for the course of an entire school year, trains and supports teachers to implement character lessons into curriculum and engages families to continue the learning at home.
Classroom Champions has grown from its humble U.S. beginnings to having mentored more than 11,000 students in schools and classrooms across Canada, the U.S.A., the Caribbean, and Latin America. Classroom Champions is the only North American organization to be awarded the World Fair Play Diploma for Promotion of Fair Play by International Fair Play Committee established by UNESCO. For more information on the program, participating Athlete Mentors, and its partners, as well as a view of Classroom Champions at work in schools, please visit ClassroomChampions.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.