Dubbo’s School of Distance Education has become the 300th school in New South Wales to participate in Olympics Unleashed, presented by Optus, following an inspiring virtual visit by kayaker Jaime Roberts.
Twenty students participating in the school’s first-ever “Virtual Residential” camp heard from Jaime on Wednesday evening on how to find their passion and unleash their individual potential.
Jaime, a qualified mining engineer, teacher and fitness instructor, has been selected to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo next year in canoe sprint.
More than 36 000 students from across the state have had Olympians and athletes aspiring for Tokyo 2020 share their experiences, with digital streaming now replacing in-person classroom visits due to the coronavirus pandemic.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said reaching the 300-school milestone in NSW was testament to the core of Olympics Unleashed, providing teachers with the opportunity to connect their students with Olympians.
“As students and athletes alike adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, Olympians’ message of resilience, perseverance and teamwork is more important than ever,” Mr Carroll said.
“Reaching 300 schools means more than 36 000 students across the state have heard directly from Olympians, messages that go beyond sport – stories of overcoming challenges, learning how to get back up when you’ve been knocked down, and finding a passion that can drive you.
“This message is helping young Australians to be the best they can– whether that’s in the classroom, the playground, the sporting field or at home.
“The AOC thanks the NSW Government and the support of Premier Berejiklian for making the delivery of the program into all NSW schools possible, so Olympians can connect with and make a real difference for these young people at a decisive time. Through the support of Optus and governments in Queensland, South Australia and the ACT, Olympics Unleashed is well on the way to going national,” Mr Carroll said.
“It was fitting to reach this milestone at Dubbo’s School of Distance Education, as Olympics Unleashed aims to reach as many schools across the country as possible, to connect Olympians with students from cities to regional areas and now in digital classrooms.”
The NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell said she was thrilled the 300th school visit for Olympics Unleashed was in regional NSW and happy so many students have benefitted from the program so far.
“The opportunity for our students to meet Olympians is one they will never forget, particularly in regional NSW where sport is such an important part of so many communities,” Ms Mitchell said.
“I’m grateful that during this time Olympics Unleashed has practiced what it teaches, through resilience and perseverance continuing to help students across NSW be the best they can be.”
Since starting in Olympics Unleashed program, kayaker Jaime Roberts has experienced massive highs and lows – from being selected in March to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, to the Games’ delay and being separated from her teammates, coaches and regular training facilities due to COVID-19.
“Speaking with the students was so good, it’s great to share my journey and hear directly from them about their own goals, challenges and experiences” Roberts said.
“The big changes we’re going through really reinforce the key message I want to leave with students. It’s so important to control what you can control, and let go of what you can’t, and if you apply yourself you can achieve goals, no matter how big they might seem.
“I can’t control our training environment or the delay, but I can control my attitude and how I apply myself to training.
“There are some fundamental skills I’ve found through sport and education that can help students’ no matter what their interests are – if you set yourself some goals, commit yourself, come with a good attitude, and surround yourself with people who can help you reach it, there are no limits to what you can achieve.”
While remote learning may not be new for the students, who were beaming in from Broken Hill to Gwabegar, they are still adapting to changes in the current environment. The students exchanged in-person activities of their traditional residential camp with digital connection at their first ever Virtual Residential.
Karin Morgan, Head Teacher PDHPE at Dubbo School of Distance Education, said Jaime’s visit had inspired her students.
"Jaime's presentation to our students was amazing - she encouraged our students to dream big and to set goals at school and in life, not limits,” Ms Morgan said. “Her message about never giving up, even when you face big barriers was excellent.
“The brain breaks she used within her presentation really focused the students and she was very generous with her time for questions after the presentation had finished. Jaime has inspired our students to overcome their own hurdles and to "be the best, but to enjoy it the most".
Olympics Unleashed has seen more than 130,000 students in over 900 schools around Australia hear directly from Olympians and athletes aspiring for Tokyo 2020, with schools across NSW, ACT, Queensland and South Australia able to register for digital visits now.
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 as excited to see the Olympics Unleashed inspire the next generation and change the future they see.”
Olympics Unleashed online visits have commenced in NSW and the ACT, with online visits rolling out in coming weeks in Queensland and South Australia. The program is free for schools thanks to support from presenting partner Optus, state governments and the AOC and available for schools right across each state and territory.
Find out more and register for a visit at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au