OCTOBER 23, 2017 – WEYBURN, AB – Michelle Salt, 2014 Paralympian and para-snowboarding World Cup medalist, is teaming up with classrooms in Weyburn this school year as part of Classroom Champions, a mentorship program that pairs world-renowned athletes with schools across Canada and the U.S. to help students strengthen academic, social and emotional skills that will set them up for success.
The athletes will support their respective classrooms, with Michelle in Regina, Estevan and Weyburn, through monthly video lessons, live video chats and in-class visits. Classroom Champions provides students with positive mentorships that build healthy relationships, encourage school engagement, foster strong classroom culture, improve problem-solving skills, increase confidence and boost self-esteem to show them that anything is possible.
From an early age, Michelle always had a passion for sports. Her parents ran a local luge track when she was eight years old, and she used to slide down it trying not to hit a frozen hay bale. After she discovered snowboarding at 13, her goal was to become a professional snowboarder. A near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2011 resulted in the amputation of her right leg above the knee.
While she was in the hospital recovering, a family friend found a Terry Fox quarter in his pocket and thought it was a sign that Michelle was destined to continue on in sports as an amputee. Just five weeks after her accident, Michelle competed in her first adaptive fitness competition.
Michelle joined Canada’s National Team and just one year later she was a member of Canada’s first-ever Paralympic Games snowboard team in 2014. She was the only Canadian in the women’s competition and achieved ninth place in the snowboard cross. In 2015, she became a National Champion and she also placed third in the 2015 Canadian World Cup.
This is Michelle’s fourth year as an athlete mentor. She celebrated her first World Cup podium with her students during the 2014-15 school year, and during the 2015-16 school year she rode a snowboard with a decal designed by a student from one of her Calgary classes.
Classroom Champions was founded in 2009 by Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler. The organization has remained dedicated to operating mentorship programs that connect students in underserved communities with world-class athlete mentors to support them in academic, social and emotional learning (SEL).
The non-profit organization has established itself in more than 1,000 classrooms ranging from kindergarten to Grade 8 to mentor more than 25,000 students across seven Canadian provinces and 23 U.S. states, with 95 Olympic and Paralympic athlete mentors participating in the program.