Marathon runner and new mum Jess Stenson shared her Olympic journey with more than 100 students at Adelaide’s Stirling East Primary School today, as Olympics Unleashed, presented by Optus delivered South Australia’s first online session.
On a day when Stenson may have been in Japan preparing for the Tokyo 2020 marathon, the Rio Olympian shared her story and how she’s overcoming the delay to her Tokyo Olympic dream to help students adapt to the immense changes they’re facing in their own lives.
Olympics Unleashed, which saw athletes share their experiences face to face with 3000 students in 20 South Australian schools in Term 1 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, is now connecting elite athlete with students in the digital classroom.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said connecting young people with Olympians, who are going through their own uncertainty and challenges, can make a real difference for students at a decisive time.
“The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone, from athletes whose Olympic dreams for Tokyo have been postponed until 2021, to students facing uncertainty and disruption,” Mr Carroll said.
“Olympians’ message of resilience, teamwork and perseverance is more important than ever.
“Olympians have inspiring stories that go beyond sport, that can help young people learn how to overcome challenges, adapt to circumstances beyond their control and find goals they are passionate about achieving.
“Thank you to the South Australian Government, our presenting partner Optus and the athletes for showing the adaptability and initiative to take this important program online and ensure Olympians can continue to inspire young South Australians with Olympics Unleashed.”
For 32-year-old Stenson, sharing her Olympic journey with students reinforced what she loved most about sport.
“To be able to engage with the students and see them get excited is so rewarding,” Stenson said. “It takes me back to my childhood, seeing athletes and being inspired.
“I want every student in that room today to feel empowered that anything can be possible if you apply yourself.
“Part of the Unleashed program encourages students to fill out a goal-setting card – and we share how to break down any ultimate goal into small parts, that together can add up to a big result. That’s a really powerful idea.”
“The delayed Games and the world going through the pandemic has made me reflect on why I run – it’s not only that I love representing my country and the challenge it brings, but the opportunities sport gives you to grow as a person.
“I never thought of these as I was chasing my sporting dream, but it’s helped me become adaptable, resilient, organised, and fostered an ongoing appreciation of the need to take care of your body and mind – all things that can help young people no matter what their passions are.
Offered to primary schools right across the state, more than 100 schools have already registered to hear firsthand from Olympians and Tokyo 2020 hopefuls.
Optus Managing Director Marketing and Revenue Matt Williams said transitioning to online visits allowed the Olympics Unleashed messages to continue to inspire students at an important time.
“We are delighted to see Olympics Unleashed go online, as it is imperative these types of role models are visible to Australian school kids,” Mr Williams said.
“There is no doubt we are looking forward to seeing our Australian athletes compete on the world stage at the Tokyo Olympics, but we’re equally excited to see the Olympics Unleashed inspire the next generation and change the future they see.”
Adam Curran, Teacher at Stirling East Primary School, thanked Jess for connecting with students.
“Jess was fantastic, very engaging and personable,” Mr Curran said. “The messages and examples Jess shared and her ability to then relate these to everyday and school life made it relevant for the students.”
Olympics Unleashed is available online in South Australia, as well as Queensland, New South Wales and ACT. The program is free for schools thanks to support from presenting partner Optus, state governments and the AOC.
Schools can find out more and register for online visits now at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au