Introduce Mark Tewksbury to Your Students

Coming to Schools Jan 14-17 & March 4-6, 2020

Mark Tewksbury’s remarkable experience and varied career — from the Olympics and social justice activism, to business coaching and LGBTQ+ advocacy — gives him a unique perspective on what it means to truly belong. Tewksbury’s dramatic performance of sections from his one man show will provide curriculum-relevant opportunities for students to value the diversity, respect the dignity and support the equality of all human beings.

About this Unique In-School Performance

Mark Tewksbury performs a riveting exploration of what it means to belong, drawing on his unique coming-of-age story and personal experience — from his childhood to early adulthood, to becoming a hometown Olympic hero, inspirational leader and world-renowned social justice activist. It’s not an author event. Nor is it a play. It’s this lovely sweet spot between the two and it’s magical. And so important right now. Performance and Q&A are 1 hour. Please allow an extra 15 minutes for this event.

Staging Requirements

In-school performances of Belong are ideally suited for school theatres that already include stage lighting, amplification, an audio-visual projector, and screen. However, the presentation format may be adapted for a school gymnasium or similarly large space that can accommodate more than 200 students in a quiet setting, if necessary. The format is not suitable for classrooms. When requesting a booking for this event, please confirm your school’s staging and tech capabilities.


“We were fortunate to be able to take a few of our students to Belong. It was a wonderful performance and both the students and
myself really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. Mark Tewksbury has a wonderful message around belonging, acceptance and personal
strength. At John G. Diefenbaker High School, we would love to have him share that message with our whole school.”

David, Math Teacher & Student Advisor

About Mark Tewksbury

Mark Tewksbury’s involvement with different communities, from the Olympics and social justice activism, to business coaching and LGBTQ+ advocacy, gives him a unique perspective on what it means to truly belong.

Mark first came to prominence as a record-breaking backstroke swimmer. His 16-year athletic career includes 21 national titles; seven world records; Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals; numerous awards; and a cover appearance on TIME magazine.

While sporting achievements contributed to his early success,
Mark’s life post-Olympics is what truly defines him. The author of three books, including Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock, Tewksbury was one of the first openly gay Olympic champions.

Mark has been the Master of Ceremonies for the Dalai Lama’s Canadian appearances, was invited by the Government of France to address human rights at the United Nations in New York City, and was the Chef de Mission for the 2012 Canadian Summer Olympics team. Mark is currently the Chair of Special Olympics Canada and is a Director for the Canadian Olympic Committee.

He recently received the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Gender Equality for his leadership and activism in sports.


Phone our Youth Programming Associate, Rita Sirignano at 403-260-2706 or email her at for more information on in-school author visits in 2020.


What is Wordfest Youth?

Wordfest Youth supplies authors from across Canada and around the world to present fun, illuminating in-and out-of-school events that promote a love of reading and a deeper appreciation of the world of ideas and imagination.

Who Brings the Best Authors to YYC?

Wordfest! Wordfest Youth connects Calgary students with the world’s most compelling authors. We’re a high-calibre, not-for-profit event planner of the wordiest kind who, for more than two decades, has given kids opportunities to experience life-changing ideas.

What Happens?

Pure Awesomeness! Wordfest brings the best authors from across Canada and around the world into schools for captivating, Ted-talk style presentations, as well as larger, We-Day like gatherings at theatrical venues.

Why Does Meeting an Author Matter?

Meeting an actual person who wrote an actual book can be a captivating and transformative experience, one that fosters self-confidence, sparks conversations, and seeds imaginative potential. This past year, students had the opportunity to ask NASA astronaut Dr. Dave Williams about his record-breaking, longest walk in space; hear Caldecott Medal-winner Lindsay Mattick’s story of how a real-life bear cub adopted by her great grandfather was the inspiration for the fictional Winnie the Pooh; and learn about indigenous heroes and how to move forward with Truth and Reconciliation with Wab Kinew. (He even did an impromptu rap for them!)

When Can the Authors Come?

In addition to our annual fall festival, Wordfest connects students with authors throughout the year. Join our mailing list to be the first to receive our notifications on who’s coming to Calgary next!

What is the Cost to Book an Author?

The cost for an in-school visit is $600 for a one-hour presentation; in-theatre presentations cost a subsidized rate of $6 per student, with teachers and chaperones free. Each experience also includes two signed, complimentary copies of the author’s book for your school library. To ensure that as many students as possible can participate in these life-changing experiences, we’re pleased to provide full or partial subsidies to schools that require financial support. As funding is limited, please contact us as soon as possible to inquire about subsidized events. If your school can cover the cost of an author visit – thank you! Please know that your payments enable us to pay it forward to other less fortunate schools.

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Nominate a School for Priority Funding: Did you know that Wordfest receives donations from individuals and private organizations to help deserving schools and families gain access to Wordfest Youth programming? Complete this form to nominate a school for consideration.