Former Paralympic athlete Kieran Block spent many hours teaching students about success and resilience through a Calgary-based mentorship program.
He now spends his time in the classroom as a teacher, leading a specialized transitional program for kids with autism.
“I try to carry those messages forward of hard work that I put into my sport and those things that got me the success that I earned.
“I try to carry that into my teaching practice and instill the values in the kids.”
Block and his students are part of the non-profit program Classroom Champions, which pairs volunteer Olympians, Paralympians and professional athletes with classrooms across North America and beyond.
“The program gives the kids an outreach to a mentor outside of the community — someone that can work with them and show them what they can achieve.
“Show them that there is no limit.”
These students are learning from not one, but two Paralympic athletes.
Block has a personal connection to his current Classroom Champion Cody Dolan, a member of Team Canada’s national para ice hockey team. Block used to be Dolan’s coach.
“I coached him in sledge hockey during his time with Alberta’s provincial team and all the way up to the national team as well,” Block said. “I know him quite well.
“It’s pretty cool that now he’s my mentor for the year.”
Dolan said it was an easy decision to become a mentor with the program.
“From the beginning, I knew it was an opportunity I had always wanted… the ability to give back to the community in the role of the mentor because for so long, I was getting that mentorship myself.”
Dolan has helped the class learn life skills such as leadership techniques and goal setting.
“It’s cool to think that these kids could be our future Paralympians, Olympians or an astronaut or a doctor that could save your life one day,” Dolan said.
“It shows them where they can go, what they can achieve and that there’s really no limit to what these kids can do with their lives,” Block said.
Classroom Champions will be hosting a virtual benefit concert Friday. You can find more information here.