Never Give Up began as a “one time only” program nine years ago.
Once again this spring, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame is bringing our Never Give Up educational program to students and schools in the province.
When Never Give Up debuted in 2011, the program targeted students in Grades 3-5 in support of the Saskatchewan Social Studies curriculum based on the objectives of community, our province, and heroes.
The program sought to answer the question: what makes a person a “hero”? When talking about the concept of a hero, the program strove to make the students understand that there are positive role models that could be heroes in our schools, at home, and in the community and that heroes are different for everyone. The program also recognized the special contributions that the presenters have made to Saskatchewan athletics and our society.
Elementary school students are at an extremely impressionable age. They are entering a point in their lives where they act, think and feel on their own while developing impressions of themselves and those around them. It is important that they are provided with positive people or “heroes” who they can look up to within their own community. As such, the program was originally developed around Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Ted Jaleta, and his personal story of never giving up.
Jaleta’s promising distance running career was put on hold in his native Ethiopia after he was shot, imprisoned and tortured during the Ethiopian Civil War in 1976. Jaleta was able to escape and flee the country, eventually settling in Canada.
Following an extremely successful debut, the Never Give Up program was developed into one that would be offered on a regular basis to locations throughout Saskatchewan. While the involvement of Ted Jaleta has been one of the hallmarks of the program, the involvement of other sports personalities from Saskatchewan has been essential to its success. All of these individuals have overcome obstacles and hardships and truly understand what it means to “never give up” and serve as positive role models. Past participants have included Fiona Smith-Bell (hockey), Heather Kuttai (Paralympian – shooting), Fred Sasakamoose (hockey), and Kia (Buyers) Schollar (canoe/kayak). Saskatchewan is a diverse province and this diversity is well represented within the student population. With this in mind, we have always looked to choose presenters who can speak to and represent these diversities.
Since 2011 Never Give Up has reached more than 18,000 students and been expanded to involve Grades 3-8. This year the SSHF’s mobile exhibit trailer is accompanying the Never Give Up program when it visits schools. This would not be possible without the support of our sponsors Hornoi Leasing and SaskTel.
The focus of the program is directed towards youth at risk and the formative years where the need for positive role models and the overcoming of adversity is paramount. What has never changed throughout our program delivery is the use of Saskatchewan sports personalities to engage the participants and share with them their personal stories about never giving up.