Hero Boys program kicks off at Mettawee

By Linda Maness

The first-ever Hero Boys team at Mettawee Community School aims to build character with fitness.

Similar to Girls on the Run, aims to make athletics, teamwork fun

WEST PAWLET — For the first time a boys’ youth development program called Hero Boys is being offered to students in grades 3-5 at Mettawee Community School. The 7-week program, that meets twice a week, uses running as its base activity. Additionally the sessions are used for setting goals and the boys learn how to define success through teamwork, physical strength and endurance. There are 12 boys in Mettawee’s inaugural year for the program. The school hopes to expand participation in 2017.

The highlight of the Mettawee Hero Boys season will be going to a 5K Color Run in Granville, N.Y. in mid-May.

School nurse Mandy Mayer explained that Mettawee’s Hero Boys program was fortunate to have an anonymous local sponsor who contributed funds that not only covered half of the participation fee for all of the participants, but will also pay the boys’ entry fee for the culminating 5K Color Run. Mayer said, “We are so grateful for this generous support that made the program possible!”

Mayer holds running programs such as Hero Boys in high esteem, having helped bring Girls on the Run to the school some dozen years ago. She discovered Hero Boys while researching running programs for elementary-age boys. Although its roots are in Maryland, the founders of the program were excited to share the training and curriculum with Mettawee and hope to see it expand to other Vermont schools.

“We are very excited to bring Hero Boys to Vermont. We liked the idea of a character-building program with running and fitness at its core,” said Mayer. “During the 7-week program boys will develop proper running form and endurance skills while also learning to support one another, set goals and develop self-confidence. An important component of the program is having positive male role models as leaders, and we are proud that parent Brad Pratt stepped in as our head coach. With his guidance and the support of co-coaches and Mettawee teachers Jennifer Leach and Diane Sutter, the program is off to a terrific start!” Paraeducator Judy Zinn is lending student support as well.

Principal Brooke DeBonis knows all too well the value of such programs. “Mettawee Community School has had a Girls on the Run program for a dozen years and we wanted to make sure that the boys at Mettawee had an equal opportunity to join a running program that taught weekly lessons on being a leader, a role model, and to have a positive attitude towards themselves and others,” she said.

DeBonis is pleased and excited for Mettawee to be the first school in Vermont to launch the Hero Boys running program.

Coach Pratt, whose son is taking part in the program, was drawn to being a Hero Boys coach by the idea of, “ … being able to inspire the boys, as well as have them inspire me to be more healthy, active, and to help instill some values that will help them in every facet of their lives. It’s really a win-win…The program is designed well, with a weekly message, and an athletic curriculum that applies to all levels. The kids really love the relays, and obstacle course activities as well, and well, not only the kids.”

Pratt added, “We are very excited to have the 5K Color Run to participate in. It’s going to be a great way to celebrate the progress these boys have made.”

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