'Connect to people:' Olympic speed skater shares motivation, mindfulness with MPS students

MILWAUKEE -- It might not be the first message you'd hear from an Olympic medalist during a visit with students in Milwaukee -- but Milwaukee Public Schools officials have expanded teaching "mindfulness and meditation." Olympic speed skater Katherine Reutter-Adamek on Wednesday, May 2 helped students better understand and react to their feelings.

Katherine Reutter-Adamek

A growing initiative at MPS schools is to teach lessons in mindfulness -- a practice that changed Katherine Reutter-Adamek's life.

"Meditation, mindfulness and the ability to be here now," said Reutter-Adamek.

Reutter-Adamek is a silver and bronze medal Olympian in women's speed skating. In 2013, she retired and began coaching at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.

Through her skating journey, Reutter-Adamek said she credits meditation as a key way to handle the stress of competition, and life outside of it.

On Wednesday, Reutter-Adamek visited Clement Avenue School.

Katherine Reutter-Adamek

"Sometimes we miss the ability to be here now, to connect to people around us and do the absolute best we can in this moment -- and those moments are what lead us to success in the goals you set for yourself," said Reutter-Adamek.

Colleen Wey

It's the exact message MPS officials are incorporating into the curriculum.

"We are going to have challenges, we are going to have failures but it's how you look at those challenges and failures, take that into perspective, and just kind of connect with your emotion and move forward," said Colleen Wey, social and emotional learning teacher.

Going forward, MPS officials would love to have more guests like Reutter-Adamek.

Katherine Reutter-Adamek

"This is something that we would definitely like to continue and hope we can reach out to others," said Wey.

Reutter-Adamek brought her medals to show students how meditation and mindfulness can lead to great things.

"A lot of times, our emotions run us and that's not fair. Your emotions don't decided the day you're going to have. You decide the day you're going to have," said Reutter-Adamek.

According to MPS, Reutter-Adamek visit was actually by chance. Six months ago, she heard an MPS radio interview on the topic of mindfulness and reached out to see if she could help.