Elementary students get outside and get active
By Kris Leonhardt
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are hosting six football outreach camps through the month of May giving elementary students an opportunity to get outside and get active.
The program, held in conjunction with the NFL Play 60 program, is traveling to schools in Appleton, Clintonville, Fort Atkinson, Green Bay and Hartford to conduct camps with 150-300 students at each stop.
On May 9, the Packers hosted Holy Family Catholic School at Titletown football fields, where the students rotated through five 45-minute drill stations — a relay race, kicking a ball, throwing a pass, leaping for a catch and diving for a touchdown.
Holy Family first grade teacher Courtney Wedan, who coordinated the event with the Packers, said that the school was looking for experiences that students wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
“So we were just looking for just different experiences to bring into our school and then (Packer staff member) Ryan Fencl said, ‘Well, we do this’ and I thought, you know, we can get our kids off the grounds, get them something they wouldn’t normally experience and kind of enjoy the outdoors for a day,” Wedan said.
“This encourages them to be active, and they want to be active and they want to participate and some competitive streaks come out for some of the kids, too. So, it kind of encourages them to compete against one another. And then just fresh air is so underrated these days, especially coming off of COVID. I mean, yes, that was a couple of years ago, but we’re still feeling the aftereffects with kids trying to figure out where their position is in the world, to act and to play and to do things. So, I am really excited that we were able to see all of these different things, the different activities to get them moving.”
Michelle Boland — parent of Parker, 9, and Hudson, 7 — said that the opportunity that the Packers give to the students through the camp was heartening.
“These kids grow up in Green Bay and I think anyone who follows the Packers, idolizes them and to give them an opportunity to come here and play on their field and stuff like that, it’s just really cool and inspiring,” Boland said.
“[My sons] both thought it was pretty cool. I’ll say my youngest, who did not get to come, had a meltdown this morning because he wasn’t coming with because he’s in kindergarten. It was only first through fifth grade. So, it was definitely a fun morning getting ready for this…“
It was especially meaningful to Boland’s middle child, Hudson.
“Ever since he was three, he’s always had a football in his hand and we’ve gone through many wall clocks, a couple of TVs, because he always has to be throwing the football in the house,” she explained.
“The two of them play sports in the front yard all the time. So I think it’s great that they have each other to push each other there to better, but I know when [Hudson] was little, I mean, we had the little kids Packer costume, and he was in that every Sunday when the Packers were playing.”
The opportunity for the students to connect with the team is what Welan says makes the Packers stand out in the community.
“This is such a community team. They’re right here in the heart of Green Bay; our school is only a couple blocks down the road. So, it’s really nice that they’re giving back and encouraging all of these different interactions with the community. I mean, Tony Fisher is here, former Packer player to support like, ‘Hey, we are part of this community and we want to be part of your community schools, churches and everything,’” she said.