Skip to main content

River Heights explores the world with The Amazing Race

February 21, 2023 News Story
Catherine Wreford Ledlow and Craig Ramsay

École River Heights School students studied the real world with help from a reality TV show.

From November to February, Grade 7 students participated in a Social Studies unit based on The Amazing Race. Designed by River Heights teacher Kyle Spencer, the unit used the popular adventure game show as inspiration to learn about different countries around the world.

“I was trying to find a way to make Social Studies more engaging and fun,” Spencer said. “The students follow The Amazing Race and as the contestants go to different countries around the world, each student is tasked with a different job. There’s the economist, the art critic, the geographer, the historian and the tour guide. They research a specific country, summarize their notes and cite their sources. Then we watch another episode and they rotate jobs.”

The students watched season three of the American version of The Amazing Race to learn about such places as Mexico, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam.

To cap off the unit, River Heights received a visit from The Amazing Race Canada winners Catherine Wreford Ledlow and Craig Ramsay on Feb. 17.

A Winnipegger, Wreford Ledlow introduced herself as “Elliot’s mom” as her son is a Grade 7 student at River Heights. Ramsay appeared via video conferencing from Palm Springs, Calif.

The real-life best friends first met a quarter-century ago at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, going on to careers in dance, theatre, TV and film.

In 2013, Wreford Ledlow was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and was given two to six years to live. In 2022, despite having terminal cancer, she raced across Canada, competing in physical and mental challenges along the way.

She credits her positive attitude for why she has outlived her prognosis.

“I feel like there are two options. You can go home and cry and die or you live your life to its fullest, live as long as you can and enjoy every minute of it,” Wreford Ledlow said.

After screening some highlights from their adventure, Wreford Ledlow and Ramsay spoke to the students and answered their questions. Throughout their talk, the two best friends stressed the importance of focusing on the journey and not the destination.

“What’s the worst that could happen? We’re eliminated and go home early, but still have a wonderful experience that few people do,” Ramsay said. 

“Things are always going to be fine, regardless of winning or losing. As long as your head set is positive and you care about others, you’ll have happiness.”

The students heard that message loud and clear.

“It was really touching,” Mariam Shaihn said. “Catherine wants to do all these things before she passes. She got so much out of the race and fulfilled so many of her wishes. Winning a new truck and a bunch of money, that’s a bonus.”

“It’s just a bonus, the actual race and seeing Canada is what they signed up for,” Ella Venier-Melnyk said.

The students said The Amazing Race theme made for an enjoyable learning experience.

“Mr. Spencer’s goal is to make learning fun,” Olive Sorby said.

“So far he’s succeeding!” Shaihn said.

“It was quite a social class. Mr. Spencer put the social in Social Studies,” Nolan Wilkie said.

“You really had to be there when we watched the episodes. There was so much cheering for the people to win. It was touching and inspirational,” Abigail Laporte said.

Back to top