Three days before he was honoured at Monterey middle school, Grade 8 student Gavin Kratz knew something was up. It was supposed to be a surprise but by checking out the website for the World Harmony Run Kratz figured out he and classmate Atiana Handy were going to be singled out at a ceremony at the school.
“I guess I’m pretty happy,” Kratz said after being given a medal, a rose, some chocolate and a book of inspirations by run organizers on April 23 at Monterey.
Kratz, 14, was honoured in front of an assembly of 400-plus students for not only being a school athletic leader but for the public speaking skills he displayed at a TED Youth event recently.
Handy’s volunteer work at a children’s petting zoo, as a library reading buddy and as a volleyball coach garnered her the same recognition and gifts at the 30-minute gathering.
“It was embarrassing when he was saying all of it,” she said about listening to vice-principal Sean McCartney’s accolades, “but now I feel kind of honoured.”
Six Monterey students ran that morning from a St. Patrick Street meditation centre to the school with six runners from the World Harmony Run. The World Harmony Run was started in 1987 by athlete, philosopher, artist and poet Sri Chinmoy and is held every two years in countries around the world. The purpose of the run, which originates in New York City, is to raise awareness of peace and harmony.
Organizers approached Monterey about taking part in the relay. McCartney felt it was a good opportunity to honour two exceptional students and said the Harmony message was one all can connect with. “To talk about peace, friendship and doing good things for others – how can you go wrong with a message like that?’ he said.
The Harmony team continued the run to the legislature grounds in Victoria for a noon-hour event before heading to George Jay elementary school for an afternoon gathering and to Galiano Island and Vancouver. The Western Canada portion of the run which began in Tofino on April 20 ends in Calgary. An Eastern Canada relay also started this week in Halifax, aiming for Ontario.
The Run is funded with donations from individuals and has been approved by world leaders such as Nelson Mandela and athletes such as Carl Lewis.