Written by: Kris Leonhardt/Shane Fitzsimmons
Press Times staff
HOWARD – As part of the Green Bay Packers Football Outreach Camp, Packers staff and area football teams joined forces with 90 GRIT children and adults from the Howard-Suamico, Pulaski and Bonduel school districts and the Bridge the Gap program to conduct workouts.
GRIT920 is a nonprofit organization specializing in inclusive and adaptive fitness that holds classes out of the Bode Central building in Howard.
“So GRIT has been around since 2016 and it started with the Pulaski school district and an instructor from Bode Central. She says: ‘I would like to bring some movement and fitness into my special education classroom.’ Fast forward to today and we serve middle and high school Pulaski, K to 12 Howard-Suamico, middle and high schools for Bonduel, and the adult program at Bridge the Gap of about 25 people ages 19 and up. One time a 65-year-old gentleman came and joined us and had a blast,” said GRIT920 Board Director Hollie Linder.
“The goal is to expand at least 10 school districts, if not 15. The ultimate goal is to have a separate building where we can house 15 school classrooms, as well as have open gym opportunities for families who want to come in and help their kids get active.”
Drills at Bode Training Camp on Oct. 12 included relay races, kicking a football, passing the ball, jumping to catch and diving to score a goal.
Bay View Middle School Special Education Teacher Teri Deavers said having the Green Bay Packers involved meant a lot to the participants.
“They were so excited to be here with the Packers. The idea that the Packers are everything right now; That means a lot to some of my kids,” Deavers said during camp.
He said his favorite thing about camp was “all the mentors and friends who came out to help.”
“I mean, all these kids came and took the time to be a part of the day and they seemed to be having as much fun as all the participants,” Deavers added.
Linder echoed this sentiment.
“What really warms my heart is seeing football players from schools who wouldn’t normally interact with this group become friends. A lot of our students say, ‘You know what? ‘I think I’ll change my major when I go to university, I think I’ll focus on private education instead of work from now on.’ It’s the impact we have not only on the participants, but on the people who form friendships,” Linder said.
And that impact wasn’t lost on Bay Port High School senior and football player Tevyn Montgomery.
“We have a great time here with the special needs kids. I’m in the same class with them at school, and it’s really great to bond with them and see the smiles on their faces and watch them do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do. And it’s great to see everything and help.”