Oakland Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and DE Matt Shaughnessy traveled to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Oakland, Calif., to speak to the students about the importance of good health and fitness as part of the NFL’s Play 60 campaign. The Raiders presented the school with a $10,000 NFL Play 60 grant before leading a group of students in 60 minutes of exercise.
DE Matt Shaughnessy poses with some of the Play 60 students. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
NFL Play 60 selected 34 Super Schools to receive a grant based on their Back to Football Friday event, which was the school’s demonstration of their passion for the local team. Thurgood Marshall’s Back to Football event honored their neighborhood hero and supporter, the late Jack Tatum. According to their entry, “We invited Mrs. Denise Tatum and Louis Tatum to receive a donation and expression of support at our Health and Wellness assembly. This assembly was the kickoff of our annual Jack Tatum Day celebration. The focus was on diabetes awareness and prevention.”
Thurgood Marshall Elementary’s entry into the sweepstakes earned them the Super School title, the NFL Play 60 grant and the visit from the Raiders. “We were delighted to visit Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, to meet the students and faculty, to Play 60 with students, and to deliver an NFL Play 60 grant, which recognizes and reinforces a commitment to education, health and wellness,” said Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask.
The students greet Shaughnessy and Heyward-Bey as they arrive at Thurgood Marshall Elementary. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The students were lined up outside with signs and cheered enthusiastically as Heyward-Bey and Shaughnessy arrived. “They were so excited,” said Heyward-Bey. “As soon as we showed up they were all yelling and screaming. When we gave them the check for $10,000 the looks on their faces were priceless. They were so happy.”
Shaughnessy saw the importance of connecting with the elementary school students. “It meant a lot because us coming out here and telling them about eating well and exercise, its not just their teachers telling them, its other people, people they can look up to like Darrius and myself,” said Shaughnessy.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey speaks to the students about living a healthy and active lifestyle. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The players answered questions about school, health and fitness before participating in Play 60 activities in the yard. “We did some drills with hoola hoops and they had some accuracy drills with the football, throwing them through loops,” said Shaughnessy. “There was a weight station and they had pull-up station as well as an obstacle course.” Heyward-Bey and Shaughnessy moved from activity to activity instructing and motivating the students.
The Raiders help the students warm up for the 60 minutes of exercise. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Four Raiderettes, including five-year veteran Meena, cheered on the kids as they participated in the different stations. I think they were really excited,” said Meena. “It is definitely rewarding for us as well seeing the kids enjoying what the organization has provided.”
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey shows off his hoola hoop skills. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Coach Craig Colbert, who runs the sports program with Coach Gary Middleton, tries to keep the students active during recess every day and through physical education class, which students participate in twice a week. Colbert saw the Raiders visit as a big boost for the students. “One thing [the students] do like to work on is sportsmanship so the Raiders coming by talking about team sportsmanship and doing a couple of sports with them and activities that helps them out a lot,” said Colbert.
Principal Maya Woods-Cadiz watches her students throw the football at the target. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Principal Maya Woods-Cadiz was thrilled to not only receive the grant, but also to have the players speak to her students. “We want every child to follow their passion so these players are an example of someone who had a passion and followed it and so they’re successful,” said Woods-Cadiz. “Our kids need to see that. They need to know there’s something beyond the here and now. They have to see someone in the place where they want to go. They have to have someone that’s been on that path so I think that’s huge.”
DE Matt Shaughnessy encourages the student. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The visit was also meaningful to Heyward-Bey and Shaughnessy. “It means a lot,” said
Heyward-Bey. “I remember when I was in elementary school and these kids are so smart. They’re talking about college already and they want to know so much and that just brings me back to when I was 10, 11 years old.”
The Play 60 students pose for a photograph with WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and DE Matt Shaughnessy. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Thurgood Marshall Elementary School will use the grant to help fund medical and counseling services for the students. “We have a good number of students unfortunately whose parents have passed away and have faced other trauma so we’ve been trying to creatively think of ways to secure funds,” said Woods-Cadiz. “[Back to Football Friday] came up, we applied and NFL was gracious enough to give us the donation.”
Heyward-Bey and Shaughnessy hope that the students had as much fun as they did and that their visit helped motivate the students to be physically active at least 60 minutes every day.