April 10, 2014 – TORONTO
– While most of us set New Year’s goals, to lose a couple of pounds or cut back on sugar, a group of Olympic cross country skiers, from Canmore Alberta, set their sights a little higher this year. Perianne Jones, Emily Nishikawa and Mark Arendz competed for Canada this winter in the Sochi Olympics. Through setting personal bests and even winning a silver medal, this group of cross country skiers made Canada proud. The Olympic Games was just the beginning of their journey to inspire this year. These Olympians traded snow for sun and travelled to Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere, to help build a new school for an impoverished rural community with SchoolBOX, a national charity whose mission is to ‘Make Education Possible’ for children.
One year ago, Perianne Jones, the brainchild behind the idea of ‘Skiers 4 SchoolBOX’ called SchoolBOX’s director, Sarah Kerr, a former high school classmate, to explain how she wanted to help build a school in Nicaragua. Both Jones and Kerr are from Almonte, a small town in eastern Ontario where SchoolBOX was founded. “I knew that this was something I wanted to do since hearing about SchoolBOX. I really couldn’t have imagined the impact that SchoolBOX has had on so many families. The community where we are working, Jardines de Apoyo, is extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a real school for their kids. They have been studying under tarps and makeshift huts for over 14 years,” said Jones from the worksite in Nicaragua this week.
Working alongside parents, community members and even eager future students, in the impoverished community of ‘Jardines de Apoyo’, just south of the capital city Managua, the Olympians dug foundations, carried blocks and helped mix cement, all in an effort to provide a real school for the hundreds of children in that community this year. “It has been a great week here with the kids,” says Mark Arendz, silver medal winner, “It was just incredible to see the effect and the inspiration that we could give them, just by showing up. It was really good to see everyone – the community, workers and kids- putting in their effort to build something for the future.”
Perianne, Emily and Mark, along with Cross Country Canada, are members of True Sport, an organization promoting fair sport and teaching athletes that by giving back they can in fact become better athletes. When asked why they decided to use their short off season to ‘give back’, Emily Nishikawa explained that “being able to give back is huge. Sometimes I feel like skiing can be quite a selfish sport, we have to spend a lot of time just focusing on ourselves…so when I get an opportunity to give back, I take it. It feels good and it feels like I'm contributing to something important. It was really cool to see that spirit of coming together for something that is really needed. I would definitely encourage other people to take an opportunity like this to give back.” Emily and her teammates have inspired athletes young and old across Canada this winter. She is now having a global impact empowering kids to go to school in Nicaragua.
“I am pretty happy with everything we accomplished this week,” reflects Jones, “Hopefully it will inspire a few more kids to go to school after the whole project is done and we are gone.”
SchoolBOX’s team in Nicaragua was raving about how helpful it was to have their team down this April. “Having Perianne, Mark and Emily get behind SchoolBOX has been such a gift,” adds Kerr, “It shows that when we work together to ‘Make Education Possible’, we really can defeat poverty. It is extraordinary that these elite athletes are using their Olympic journey to give a voice to some of the world’s poorest children. We are so proud of these amazing skiers.”
To learn more and to contribute to their campaign ‘Skiers 4 SchoolBOX’ visit www.schoolbox.ca/ski
SchoolBOX is a registered Canadian Charity (# 83870 1324 RR0001) with the mission of ‘Making Education Possible’ for all children in Nicaragua and the world. Our community is comprised of thousands of individuals from different faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. We are united in a love for the children we serve and the belief that education can defeat poverty. Our vision is to see all children in school and finishing their primary education. To date, we have built more than fifty classrooms, dozens of washrooms and libraries. We support over 15,000 children in Nicaragua’s poorest communities with school supplies annually. We have given out over 250,000 notebooks and half a million pencils to children, allowing them to access basic education. To learn more visit www.schoolbox.ca
For more information on SchoolBOX contact Sarah Kerr, Executive Director at 647-882-7484.
For more information or to donate to ‘Skiers 4 SchoolBOX’ visit www.schoolbox.ca/ski