Young Calgarian isn't letting learning disabilities — or a heavy workload at university— sink his dreams.
Ottawa (30 Nov. 2015) — For Gavin Jaeger-Freeborn, life doesn’t get much better than when he’s on the water, paddling with all his might during a 1,000-metre solo canoe sprint.
“It’s such an amazing rush,” says the 18-year-old Calgarian who represented Canada during last summer’s World Junior Canoe Championships. “The adrenalin. The speed. I love how it feels.”
Even in solo events, you're never competing alone
But although he’s alone on the water during many of the events in which he competes, Gavin has learned that he could never succeed without the help and support of others.
It’s a lesson that’s at the heart of the essay he wrote about the importance of public services that earned him NUPGE’s Terry Fox Memorial Scholarship for 2015 — we’re all of us better off when we commit to helping others and to asking for help ourselves.
And it’s also a lesson that has helped him overcome the challenges of attention deficit disorder and dyslexia and find success in both school and sport.
“With my learning disabilities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.”
“With my learning disabilities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed,” says Gavin. School work piles up. A heavy practice schedule looms over every day.
“Obviously, I can’t ask people to do my homework for me,” he says with a laugh. “But I know that if I talk about it with my family or my coach that they’ll be able to make me feel like it’s not all on my shoulders."
“Their love and support help motivate me to keep on doing my best," Jaeger-Freeman says.
In September, Gavin started his university career at the University of Victoria. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he chose to study mechanical engineering. He says that maybe one day, he’ll be able to put his education to use designing more fuel-efficient cars or safer airliners.
Eyes on Tokyo 2020
He’s also keeping up with this competitive canoeing.
“They say that paddlers usually peak in their late 20s,” he says. “It’ll mean a lot of work, but I’d love to represent Canada at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
Winners of 2015 NUPGE Scholarships
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE