Receiving an award for school attendance is a great honour for any elementary school student, but it’s that much cooler when the award is being presented by an NFL superstar.
Chicago Bears’ DE Israel Idonije, along with Premier Greg Selinger, presented 40 students from Sister MacNamara School with attendance awards at the Victoria Inn, as part of the Israel Idonije First Down Program.
The program aims “extend positive life-changing opportunities to families and individuals in economically disadvantaged communities.”
Idonije said that despite becoming an NFL star, he has not forgotten his Manitoba roots, and that is why he wants to help. He grew up in Brandon and played his university football at the University of Manitoba.
“This has nothing to do with the NFL,” said Idonije. “It has to do with remembering your journey to success and how you got there.
“It’s important that you support the lives of those around you that need help.”
Sister MacNamara guidance counsellor Michelle Namaka said the chance for kids to be honoured by Idonije has single handedly raised attendance levels at the school.
“Him being here has encouraged kids 100 per cent.” said Namaka. “We had kids that had 60 per cent attendance in the past few years that have gone up to 100 per cent this year.”
Namaka said that Idonije connects well with kids because of his personality.
“He is fabulous. He is a big kid,” she added.