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Calgary Students Learn about Disability and Inclusion  Through New School Program Presented by RBC

October 4, 2023

The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024 School Program presented by RBC officially launched today at an interactive event at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex with area schools. The program aims to impact over 1,000 local students in Grades 4 to 6.

Through the RBC School Program, participating classrooms will receive an activity book and RBC Cheer Kit ahead of the Games, which take place from February 27 to March 2, 2024. Students are encouraged to complete the activity book as a classroom, incorporate Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame ‘Beyond the Win’ online resources and use their RBC Cheer Kit to support athletes during the Games.

“We are proud to support the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024 School Program,” said Jeff Boyd, Regional President of Alberta and Territories at RBC. “At RBC, we believe that sport teaches valuable life lessons like integrity and unity, bringing people together while fostering inclusivity. Through this program, our goal is to educate and inspire youth to be more inclusive in their classrooms and ensure no one feels left behind.”

Students joining the in-person event at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex were inspired by Special Olympics athletes, Olympians and National Team winter and summer athletes during a Q&A session.

Cheryl Bernard – an Olympic silver-medal winning curling skip and co-chair of the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary Organizing Committee, has committed her life to sharing the values of sport through education. Bernard helped launch the program with RBC and partners at Tourism Calgary. 

Bernard, the President and CEO of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, stated that “a key aspect of bringing the Games to Calgary is to create a lasting educational impact. This is aimed at raising awareness about intellectual disability and promoting inclusion. The partnership with RBC will empower a new generation of Canadian children through Special Olympics. The goal is to share the experiences and passion of Special Olympics athletes, highlighting their strength and determination. By doing so, we hope to inspire children to reach their full potential, foster teamwork, and build a strong sense of community.”

Students had a sneak preview of “Respecting the Game – the Story of Jackie Barrett”. Jackie was the first Special Olympics athlete inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2022/21. This program was developed by Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in partnership with Special Olympics Canada. The full program will be launched on Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s free web-based education platform – – in early 2024.

Canadian bobsleigh athlete, Eden Wilson, understands the importance of inclusion. A biracial - Metis and Jamaican – athlete, the RBC Olympian is in sport for a reason that extends far beyond podium performances. She also helped launch the program with Calgary area students to support her continued effort to blaze a trail for more inclusivity in sport.

“Growing up, there was a stigma around being Indigenous (Black and Indigenous even more so), so I didn’t really embrace my Indigenous roots as a kid. I gave myself a lot of space from it to get through many years of feeling different. I didn’t have any Indigenous or Black role models and I got tired of running from it, so I started learning,” said Wilson, who is training to earn a spot on Canada’s 2026 Olympic Team. “I realized that what made me different also made me special and that’s the key. It could be empowering. I now want to pay it forward, and encourage this generation of children to be more inclusive after learning what I experienced at their age.”

The School Program celebration was capped off with a performance by Jennie Harluk, a local singer-songwriter and First Up with RBCxMusic alumna. The First Up with RBCxMusic program provides emerging Canadian artists with a platform for exposure, funding, education and mentorship opportunities.

Wednesday’s event also provided an opportunity to excite students for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024. 

“Hosting the Games in Calgary can have a lasting impact in our city long after the event is over,” said Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary which led the bid to bring the Games to Calgary. “The local Games Organizing Committee has put a lot of thought into ensuring a meaningful legacy from the Games. Hearing stories about inclusion and getting excited for the Special Olympics athletes – we hope all these students here today can take pieces of what they learned and use it going forward."

About Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024

Calgary is ready to welcome the nation Feb. 27 to Mar. 2, 2024, for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024. Over 4,000 visitors, including athletes, coaches, and officials, along with their families and friends, will gather in Canada’s winter sport capital.

Participants who qualified through their Provincial and Territorial Games, will compete in eight sports at seven venues throughout Calgary. The Games are a qualifying event for Special Olympics World Winter Games 2025. Together, we will create an experience of a lifetime for these deserving athletes!

For more information about the Games, please visit or follow us on our social channels Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / LinkedIn

About Tourism Calgary

Tourism Calgary is the official destination management organization for Calgary's tourism industry. For more than 60 years, the organization’s primary purpose has been to promote Calgary and area as the destination of choice. With a vision of making Calgary the ultimate host city, Tourism Calgary markets the city locally, nationally, and internationally and advocates for its ongoing development as a destination. The organization hosts and attracts visitors, conventions and events, and activates the city by fostering the growth of shareable, memorable experiences. Pre-pandemic, Calgary’s tourism industry contributed approximately $2.1 billion in visitor spending by over 8 million visitors annually. 

For more information about Tourism Calgary, please visit or follow @tourismcalgary on social channels. 

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