Green Timbers Elementary students Simranjit Dhami (left) and Amrit Gill speak live to Olympic speed skater Brittany Schussler (on screen behind) via Skype.

Surrey youth learning how to set Olympic-sized goals

Speed skater Brittany Schussler speaks to Green Timbers Elementary students, encouraging them to follow their dreams.

For the past few months, students at Green Timbers Elementary have been learning about setting goals, perseverance and fair play – on an Olympic scale.

As part of a program called Classroom Champions, students in Grades 4 and 5 have been corresponding with Olympic speed skater Brittany Schussler through encouragement videos and social media, learning about how the 2006 and 2010 Olympian began her career and how she is preparing for the upcoming games in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

On Tuesday the class was able to have their first live Skype chat with Schussler from her home in Calgary.

“This is using technology the way it’s meant to be used,” said principal John Horstead. “It’s about connecting kids with technology in all sorts of ways.”

During the Skype discussion, two students were live tweeting the conversation, with other student using iPads to record video.

Classroom Champions is a non-profit organization founded by 2010 Olympic gold-medalist Steve Mesler and his sister Leigh Mesler Parise to connect Olympic and Paralympic athletes with students using the latest technology.

Green Timbers Elementary is one of only two schools in B.C. participating in the program.

“We tweet with Brittany and she tweets back, and we even tweet out all her encouragement videos using the twitter name @classroomchamps,” said teacher Robyn Thiessen

Each student was able to ask Schussler questions about her life and her goals.

Schussler explained how she and her teammates unfortunately didn’t have the success they were hoping for in Vancouver and what it took to get back into training.

“It was hard when I left the Olympics in 2010 to get motivated again,” said the two-time Olympian. “It was hard to make a new plan, but looking back now I’ve learned a lot. Hopefully I can take those learning experiences to Sochi.”

She continued to reinforce how taking small steps helps you accomplish your long-term goals.

Following the live chat, students Channee Sekhon and Gurtej Sangha expressed what they had learned from Schussler.

“You should always be brave and keep on trying no matter what,” said Sekhon.

“And never give up,” said Sangha.

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