Apolo Ohno: Decorated Olympian and Champion for Students
Talk about an overachiever. At age 31, speed skater Apolo Ohno is the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time. But he hasn’t stopped here. He has made major contributions to society, such as rallying against underage drinking, promoting healthy lifestyles to kids, and helping teach math and science to middle schoolers.
Ohno recently got involved in an initiative founded by Raytheon: MathMovesU. It’s a program that targets middle school students to help them become interested in math and science. Research by Raytheon has found that students’ interest in math declines when they reach grade six. In fact, twenty- nine percent of all middle school students cite math as their least favorite subject.
Raytheon decided to use innovative and engaging online games to motivate students to participate more in math and science, making it fun to learn. The best thing about the program? Kids can do schoolwork online with their heroes such as Mia Hamm, Lisa Leslie, and Dave Mirra, and now Apolo Ohno. Ohno says:
“Math is very relevant in my career and in my life. From counting laps around the rink and calculating speed to determining the shortest distance between me and the finish line, math is vital to what I do every dayI think some kids will find that surprising!”
Believing in kids being healthy, Ohno partnered with the Century Council’s Ask, Listen, Learn Program, which discourages underage drinking and promotes a healthy lifestyle to kids ages 9–14. He also travels throughout the U.S. encouraging middle school students to make positive choices and be healthy.
In addition to all these efforts, Ohno is involved in the Special Olympics. There, he works with Unified Sports, which joins athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.
It’s safe to say that Ohno is a role model—not just to skaters but to kids everywhere who want to make a difference.
Ohno retired from the Olympics after the 2010 Vancouver games, but you can catch him this year in Sochi as an analyst for NBC.
Read about other inspiring Olympians, and follow all our coverage of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, here.
Lauren Martin is a Writer for Learning Liftoff. Previously, she has written for nonprofits as well as marketing agencies. She's covered environmental issues, women's rights, world poverty, and animal rights. With a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Ithaca College, Lauren enjoys interviewing families about their experiences with online education.