Six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes wrapped up her pit stop in Winnipeg with a visit to her old stomping grounds this morning.
Hughes, approaching the final leg of Clara’s Big Ride, dropped by Elmwood High School to speak to Grade 7 students about mental health awareness before jumping on her bike and heading east to Kenora.
Clara’s Big Ride is a 110-day cycling tour across much of Canada in support of mental health awareness. The approximately 12,000-kilometre tour wraps up in Ottawa on Canada Day.
Hughes arrived into a rainy Clara Hughes Recreation Park Saturday and enjoyed a day off Sunday. She said the visit back home has recharged her batteries for the scheduled 212-km trek today.
"(The break) has been phenomenal. It means the world to me. And the wind, we can feel, is a westerly wind – we are heading east – so I can say I’m leaving with the wind at my back and it feels great," Hughes said moments before hopping on her bike this morning.
Prior to leaving, Hughes talked to a group of 250 students at the Elmwood High School gymnasium. Included in her address was a message to students about mental health awareness, imploring students to be cognizant of friends who may be suffering and to take active roles in getting the proper help for them.
Hughes, who went public with her own depression a few years ago, is one of over seven million Canadians with mental health issues.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger was among the large group of students, teachers and parents on hand to see Hughes off.
"She’s got all of Manitoba behind her," Selinger said. "It rained love in Manitoba when she came in on Saturday and it’s going to rain love all the way to Ottawa. She has not only the wind at her back, she has over a million Manitobans that (have) her back as well."
Hughes also had her six Olympic medals with her at her old school, passing them out for six lucky students to try on.
The Elmwood event held an educational element to it, as well. As Hughes shoved off east towards Kenora, approximately 75 students from around Winnipeg were scheduled to participate in a variety of workshops dealing with mental health awareness.