Road to Paris Recap: Over 55k students took part

The Dare to Believe – Road to Paris Olympic Schools Challenge is complete. The challenge ran from mid-April until Mid-May and we had over 1600 teachers with over 48k students taking part of the physical and cultural challenge that took students around Ireland, introduced students to 5 of our top Olympic stars and got students excited for the Paris Olympics.

Over the four weeks, schools logged their activities, which converted into distances on a map, taking them on a virtual journey around Ireland and across the sea to Paris. The journey included five stops, where videos and classroom challenges were unlocked, featuring messages and insights from some of Ireland’s top athletes, such as Olympic Champion boxer Kellie Harrington, Olympic rowing medallist Aifric Keogh, World Champion gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, and World finalist and Olympian Sarah Lavin. (Recap + Video each stop below)

As a grand finale, we held “Olympians Live” at the end of the challenge, with an incredible turnout of 11,068 kids joining us that morning. Schools from each province submitted outstanding work and were selected to ask questions live on air to Rhys McClenaghan. Rhys provided brilliant answers and guided the children through a “body scan,” a technique he uses before competing on the Pommel Horse, which can help kids manage their nerves. Artist and illustrator Kathi Burke also joined and conducted a live masterclass, guiding the kids in drawing Rhys McClenaghan live on air and encouraging them to follow along in their classrooms. (See link below to Rewatch)

We are thrilled to announce that we have reached a total of 58,996 kids through this initiative so far. Additionally, some schools have chosen to participate in the challenge during June, so this number is still rising!

Kicked Off with RTE’s newsday

Rhys McClenaghan kicked off the Road to Paris Olympic Schools Challenge RTE news2day. Check out the piece below. Also RTE junior followed Holy Rosary School in Wicklow town for the duration of the challenge. Check out their diary entries HERE.


Stop 1: Dublin with Olympic Champion Kellie Harrington

The first stop was in Dublin with Olympic Champion Kellie Harrington who told us all about Ireland’s Olympic history in ART, her journey as an Olympic Champion boxer and much more!! Students had the opportunity to design medals, write songs and make timelines of Irish Olympic history.


Stop 2 Belfast with World & European Champion Rhys McClenaghan

Week 2 featured Olympian and 2x World Champion Rhys McClenaghan who taught us all about Belfast’s Boxing success, the history of his event, fascinating facts about the Paris Olympics and the Paris Mascot Phryges. Students had the opportunity to create their own mascots and research their favourite Olympian.

Stop 3 Galway with Olympic Bronze Medallist Rower Aifric Keogh

Week 3 stopped in Galway where Olympic bronze medallist rower Aifric Keogh is from. On this stop students learned all about the importance of the Olympic Value of Respect, and students took the Olympic Oath!

Stop 4 Limerick with Irish Record holder Sarah Lavin

Olympian and Irish record holder Sarah Lavin took students on a tour of Limerick, her home town, and shared some interesting tales of Irish athletics success at the Olympics.  Students learned all about the custom of pin swapping at the Olympics, the importance of friendship and the importance coaches. Sarah shares how she’s learned to strive for excellence with friends who make the journey all the more fun. Students enjoyed making their own team handshakes and friendship bracelets.


Stop 5 Paris with Rugby 7’s Captain Harry McNulty

Our final stop was of course, Paris! We learned all about this year’s Olympic Games with a fun video that features Irish Rugby 7’s captain Harry McNulty. The classroom activities were created by our friends at the French Embassy of Ireland and they included some French 101 lessons, cut-outs of some iconic Parisian landmarks and post cards for Team Ireland. video

Olympians LIVE! Webinar Finale

Over 357 teachers and 11k students joined us for an exciting Olympians LIVE! to celebrate the Road to Paris Olympic Schools Challenge. It was a fun fueled session with two stars, Olympic Gymnast Rhys McClenagahan and awarding winning artist Kathi Burke who were asked questions from students in all 4 provinces. (Thanks to all the teachers that submitted questions!)

Rhys talked us through his recent win at the Europeans and told us how he aims for perfection but he also know perfection is unattainable. He also led us through a body-scan relaxation exercise that students can do themselves if they feel nervous or stressed. We then moved to Kathi who reiterated Rhys’s sentiments about perfection, saying that artists know this too. Kathi then lead the nation through her process of drawing Rhys doing his pommel horse event. Rhys followed along with Kathi’s tutorial and you and see how he did when you watch the replay!

Thanks to the 4 schools that came on to ask questions. They were selected due to their exceptional engagement during the challenge. The children were so well prepared and brought brilliant energy.

Rewatch the Olympians LIVE!:

More Updates

We’ve been blown away by all the Updates uploaded by schools during the challenge! Check them all out here: UPDATES

Thank you so much to everyone who took part in our challenge and for sharing your feedback and updates with us. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves and were inspired by Team Ireland.

Next up is the actual the Olympic Games in Paris!! Let’s go Team Ireland!