By Kris Leonhardt/Shane Fitzsimmons
Press Times staff
HOWARD – As part of the Green Bay Packers Football Outreach Camp, Packers personnel and area football teams joined forces with 90 GRIT kids and adults from the Howard-Suamico, Pulaski and Bonduel school districts and the Bridge the Gap program to run drills.
GRIT920 is a nonprofit specializing in inclusive and adaptive fitness, running classes out of the Bode Central building in Howard.
“So GRIT has been around since 2016 and it started with Pulaski school district and a trainer from Bode Central. She’s like, ‘I would love a place to bring my special education class can get some movement and fitness in.’ Fast forward to today and we are servicing middle and high school Pulaski, K through 12 Howard-Suamico, middle and high for Bonduel and the adult program, which is about 25 people at Bridge the Gap, that are 19 and up. One time we had a gentleman that was 65 come and join us and he had a blast,” said GRIT920 Administrator to the Board of Directors Hollie Linder.
“The goal is to expand at least 10 if not 15 school districts… the ultimate goal is to have a separate building we can house 15 school classes as well as open gym opportunities for families that just want to come and help their kids move.”
On Oct. 12, drills at Bode Boot Camp consisted of relay races, kicking a football, throwing a pass, leaping for a catch and diving for a touchdown.
Bay View Middle School Special Education Teacher Teri Deavers said that the fact that the Green Bay Packers are involved is a huge deal to the participants.
“They were so excited to be here with anything Packers. The idea that it’s Packers is everything right now; for some of my kids it is a big deal,” Deavers stated during the camp.
She said her favorite thing about the camp is “all of the mentors and the buddies that came to help with it.”
“I mean all these kids came and took time out of their day to be part of it, and they look like they’re having just as much fun as all the participants are,” Deavers added.
Linder echoed that thought.
“What really warms my heart is to see the football players from the schools who might not normally interact with this group of individuals, become buddies. Several of our students have said, ‘You know what? I think I’m changing my major when I go to college, I think I’m going to focus on special education now instead of business.’ It’s the impact we’re having not only in the participants but for the people who buddy up,” Linder stated.
And that impact was not lost on Bay Port High School senior and football player, Tevyn Montgomery.
“It’s a great time out here with the special needs kids. I’m in a class with them at school and it’s really great to create a bond with them and see smiles on their faces and watch them do stuff that they normally can’t do. And, it’s just awesome to see and help out with the entire thing.”