CONNECTING - Students at G.H. Dawe School welcomed Olympian Skeleton racer Jane Channell for a visit on May 29th. Both Channell and the class are involved with the Classroom Champions program. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Olympian Jane Channell dropped by for a visit with some G.H. Dawe students

Channell and the Grade 4/5 class are involved with the Classroom Champions program

Grade 4/5 students at G.H. Dawe School had a very special and inspirational guest drop by for a visit this week.

Jane Channell, an Olympic Skeleton racer who placed 10th at the PyeongChang Winter Games, works with the Classroom Champions Program, which the class participates in as well. The non-profit organization matches Olympic and Paralympic athlete mentors with classrooms.

Throughout the year, students have received video lessons from Channell on the topics of goal-setting, diversity, community, perseverance, courage, and healthy living. They have even had live video chats with her on two different occasions.

The youngsters were thrilled with the visit, which was a complete surprise.

“I got involved with Classroom Champions because the year before this year, I helped my teammate who is a Classroom Champions mentor,” she explained. “He started to tell me more and more about it, and I thought it was something that I really wanted to be a part of and something that I truly believed in.”

“This is my first year as a Classroom Champion mentor, and the impact that it’s had on me is unbelievable. I don’t know if I can even put it into words.”

Channell, who has never visited Red Deer before, was touched by the students’ response to her visit, too.

“I didn’t know what to expect. But to have this kind of following in a classroom in a place I’ve never been before was overwhelming – it was exciting.

“The message I always try to tell the kids is to dream big. Once you think of something big, challenge yourself, and dream of something even bigger because you never know what you can be or what you can do unless you actually push the limits.”

Teacher Lana Beierbach said the partnership between her class and Channell has been absolutely amazing and a source of non-stop inspiration to the students.

“I really feel like having someone who is outside of our school, someone who is a celebrity, someone they see on the news and at the Olympics cheering for them and encouraging them – it makes all the difference in the world. It’s a person who they can trust for advice, someone they can look up to like a special friend who is outside of their regular circle of friends.”

Keira Dussoye, a Grade 5 student, said that Channell shows them how important it is to never give up.

“She shows us to not give up and to keep going with our dreams and be who you are.”