Inder Bring

1st year champion in 2013 and research assistant in 2014.

I initially learnt about the program through my classmates. The idea of an international program focused on health and physical education sparked my interest. Hearing past champions speak about their experiences made me realize that this was something I had to do!

It turned out to be a life changing experience! Memories were made, personal and professional growth occurred, and skills were learnt not only by students but us as teachers! The impact this program has on the community in Antigua and vice versa, is such a surreal experience to be a part of. Having gone back to the island for two back to back years, it was so great to see my past students be able to remember me and our experiences.


I am now a physiotherapist and the skills I have acquired teaching continue to play a role in my day to day life as I educate others about their health. Antigua will always hold a special place in my heart 💕

Marissa Lucas

Hi, my name is Marissa and I was very fortunate to be a champion with the program from 2014-2017. Each year brought a different experience and solidified my passion for teaching. I believe teaching at Adele and The Victory Center for three consecutive years helped grow my love and passion for special education.

There are so many wonderful memories to look back on but one of my favourites was going sailing with students from Victory Center. It’s not every day you get to share an experience like sailing the Caribbean Sea with a student. I absolutely loved showing up to the schools and students remember who I and we were each year. I felt overjoyed and special when students remembered me. This feeling always reminded me I was doing something right. The relationships and connections made on the island will stay with me forever.

Antigua holds a special place in my heart. From the first days of school, to our red couch meetings, to our unity games, each element of this program brought laughter and tears. This program has helped shape me as an educator and I will continue to share these experiences with my students in the future.

I want to thank Dr. Joanna Sheppard for giving me this opportunity and having faith in me to be her TA. We may have had troubles starting the stove and getting to school without a flat tire but we did manage to pull off a proposal.

Blair Cummings

My name is Blair Cumming, I am currently a teacher in the Langley School District where I teach Physical and Health Education at Walnut Grove Secondary School. Over the course of my undergraduate degree journey, I had the privilege of being a Champion for 3 years (2016, 17, and 19) working in 3 different schools. Each year brought different challenges and new sets of experiences that have shaped the way I approach teaching and learning today. Reflecting back now as an alumnus, my highlight was having the privilege of being the 2017 Unity Games Coordinator. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to organize (with the help of all Champion teammates) hundreds of students into small sided activities, and step back to watch all of your teammates bring joy to the energetic students. Helping students find their love and purpose to move is a passion of mine, a passion that was shaped through my Champion experiences. Thank you, Dr. Sheppard, for being a lifelong mentor, colleague, and friend.

Ashley Maynes

Hi Fellow Champions, my name is Ashley and I was a Champion in 2012 and again in 2013 as a Lesson Plan Coordinator. My drive and goal throughout my Kinesiology Degree was to be a High School Physical Education teacher, little did I know that when you enter a classroom with Jo Sheppard your world and views align and change at the same time.

I knew I had passion, patience and advocacy but with Jo and her dedication to the Champs program, it elevated ever ounce of what I wanted to do in my life for others.

Oh a memory… There are so many but I’d love to spread a laugh at this time of Global uncertainty.

Have you ever wondered why you may have been the favourite in school? Was it because you were punctual, smart, creative, and truly trying to the best of your abilities …. or did you have the biggest brown eyes and were so sweet that I believed you when you told me your friend stole your mother’s day card and said it was your own! To this day, she is the most vivid in my memories, I got tricked by a small 5 year old!

As I say, there were so many good memories! Earning respect from the 6th graders, children coming to you for advice and being so thankful that you are there for them.

I’m so thankful for the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve gained  through the Champs Program

With Jo and my peers, I am forever thankful, without you I would not be where I am today. I miss you all and hope you are staying safe and healthy.

Since graduation in 2014 I’ve been apart of 4 Agencies within Community Living British Columbia working the Front Lines with Youth and Adults with Adverse Abilities

And four weeks ago I became   a Manager for a group home on Vancouver Island

Alyssa Theodore

When I was a champion

—> I was blessed to be a champion for 3 consecutive years in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Why I went

—> I went to Antigua to get out of my comfort zone and do something I have never done before; I never travelled internationally, I never had experience with children/students, and I really struggled with putting my thoughts into words in order to explain myself. I conquered my insecurities and gained the confidence I never thought possible. Being a Champion absolutely changed my life.

Share a memory I love

—> It is so hard to pick one memory out of the three years but here’s a funny memory: I was sitting with a younger grade and asked my students about where you could be Patient in the community. One student says, “At a crosswalk you have to be Patient by waiting for the White Man!” …. I was taken aback as the students aren’t supposed to refer to anyone as ‘White’ but then the student went on to say “Yeah at the crosswalk you have to wait for the hand to go away

Nick Guenther

I was a Champion in 2018 and 2019. As momma Jo always says, “every year is different”. Each year provided its own challenges, experiences, relationships, and growth. During my 2 months in Antigua I learned more about teaching than any lecture hall taught me in the previous 5 years. I learned how to communicate, with colleagues and students. I learned how to be more patient with everyone, myself included. I learned how to set boundaries which were broken in this picture. It was the last day and their smiles were worth it. It is ironic that teaching life skills to children helped to reinforce them into my own life. I am proud to have been a part of the Champions for Health program. I will always be grateful for my time spent on the island and for the friendship and mentoring of Dr. Joanna Sheppard

Kara Willliams

Hello! I am a 2019 and would-be 2020 Champ.

I applied to this program because I was looking for inspiration. I was looking to push myself out of my comfort zone and to learn and teach in an entirely new environment than what I was used to. I was sucked in by the passion and the stories from Dr. Sheppard and those I know who had been in the program before me. Seeing how this experience changed their lives in such amazing ways, I applied and hoped that it would change mine too.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions reliving so many memories that were made last year but as I go through, I always stop for an extra moment on this one.

This photo is one very close to my heart. It was a unity games day at Potter’s Primary school. I remember this day so clearly because it was in this moment where I believe I really learned about creativity again. Throughout the day my mind was blown listening to these brilliant young minds.

They overflow with knowledge, creativity and such pure joy. I think over time I have lost my creativity and will to be free. When I think of where I found it, and how it has become a piece of me again, I am brought back to this moment. This program is truly like none other, and one of the many things that I think is so special about this program is that although we go down as a team to teach life skills to these amazing students, they teach us so much more in return. I learned so much from each and every one of them, but I think one of the most important things I learned from these students was how to open my mind to possibilities again. And even more, how to teach and live freely. On this day at Potter’s Primary these students showed me how to be creative again, and that is a memory that I am so grateful to have shared with them.

Alexis Datema

I was a champion in 2016, I went as part of my Tep. I went to learn more about education and how the world educates. My favourite memory (and I sadly can’t find the video right now) was working with Antiguan teachers and learning from them. I learnt some big lessons about teaching on that trip that have forever changed the way I approach a classroom and learning. I am currently a kindergarten teacher!

Justin Dhaliwal

I went in 2018 and 2019. I went to get some professional experience in the teaching field to help me determine if teaching was my actually my passion and if I was any good at it. And on a personal level I wanted to get away from my daily live, shake it up a bit.

My favorite memory was getting to know Rael Turner. She was the new kid in grade six who was scared to come outside and play until she saw Cole and I outside. Just learning she wanted to be a teacher and giving her advice how to become one. And she told me I was her role model (she presented me with 9 reasons). Currently I am gearing up and hoping I get in for the 2021 intake.

Bridget O’Brien Kopacek

I was part of the pilot program for UFV in 2009. I worked at five islands primary and fell in love with my students, teaching and the school community. My highlight was when my students taught me to play cricket and seeing their reaction when we brought sporting equipment. Before then they had been using rocks and sticks to play cricket and soccer. Everyday when I stepped off the bus I felt like a welcomed celebrity into the Five Islands community. I’m now in my second year as a vice principal for the north van school district and I teach grade 6/7.