Paralympic star inspires Northwood students

Northwood Junior High students received an inspirational presentation Nov. 15 from one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in the country — a man who climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair.


Chris Waddell, who earned 13 medals over seven Paralympic games and World Championships in skiing and wheelchair racing after he was paralyzed in 1988, made Northwood a stop on his 10-week Nametags Educational speaking tour.

Paralympian athlete Chris Waddell gave a presentation at Northwood Jr High. He's won medals in both the winter and summer ParaOlympics | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

Waddell spoke about his mission to change the way people perceive those with disabilities, which he challenged by reaching the 19,340-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro two years ago.

“It was great for our students to hear firsthand from someone who looks at life in such a positive way after what most people would view as a devastating injury,” Northwood co-principal Monica Schroeder said. “It was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students to hear this presentation and learn about his amazing accomplishments.”

Schroeder added the assembly also helped illustrate the school’s social and emotional learning goals.

“This program really emphasized how we should act with integrity and treat everybody with respect and dignity,” she said.

After the Northwood program, Waddell attended a public screening of the award-winning documentary about his climb, One Revolution, at the Wilmette Theatre.

Waddell’s One Revolution Foundation aims to prove how determination can lead to remarkable achievement.

The ongoing Nametags Educational tour shows students that they have the power each day to make decisions about what “Nametags” they wear.

“Nametags is not about disability, it is about resilience and community,” said Donna Volpitta, who helped design Waddell’s program. “Chris has a wonderful ability to bring people together and inspire them to do great things.”

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