Following an absence of several years, the region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue was once again represented at this year’s Défi sportif AlterGo. A nine-member athletic delegation from Polyvalente de la Forêt school made the 600-kilometre, eight-hour bus trip to bring Amos to Montreal and provide its young people with a cultural and athletic experience.

Two Birds with One Stone

The group arrived earlier this week to give the students time to visit Montreal. After their long bus ride, the representatives of Abitibi explored the streets of the city and participated in various activities.

“It took a long time to get here but it was worth it! I loved all the activities we did,” said Rosalie Paquette, member of Polyvalente de la Forêt’s swim team.

“We went to the Montreal Science Centre and saw the movie Incredible Predators at the Imax theatre,” added her teammate Mégan Jeanson.

The idea of combining sports and culture originated with the accompanying teachers, who saw a golden opportunity to offer their students a unique activity while making the trip more cost-effective.

“I have students who had never been to Montreal before. Some of them took the metro for the first time on this trip! We really wanted them to fully experience life here,” explained teacher Sylvie Lessard. “It’s been a definite plus. Montreal has so much to offer that we couldn’t justify coming here without taking advantage of at least some of it.”

Swimming to Push their Limits

A para-swimming program has been offered by Polyvalente de la Forêt for the past two years. Once a week, a certified coach teaches students the sport she loves. On Friday, the nine participants were ready to take the plunge at the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

“This was a wonderful experience for building motivation and self-esteem and for allowing them to test their limits,” noted Lessard. “I was here ten years ago for swimming and running, and both the organization and the atmosphere were fantastic. I wanted them to experience it at least once.”

Although the competition brought on its share of stress and nerves, the swimmers loved the experience.

“Once I got used to it, I had fun. What I liked most was meeting so many new people and hearing everyone cheer for us during the opening ceremonies this morning,” said Jeanson.

“My mom, uncle and grandmother all came to cheer me on. They even took photos of me!” added Paquette.

Back in Abitibi, the students will continue to participate in the swim program until the end of the school year. Sylvie Lessard hopes the program will be available again next year and that her school will find the necessary funding to return to the Défi sportif AlterGo.