Yesterday, Raiders LBs Nick Roach and Sio Moore, WRs Brice Butler and Rod Streater, LS Jon Condo, CB Taiwan Jones, and Raiderettes Bess and Rachel, visited Indian Valley Elementary School in Walnut Creek, Calif. Indian Valley earned the visit through the American Heart Association's NFL Play 60 Challenge.
During a four-week period, schools were asked to chart students' physical activity as the children were encouraged to exercise for at least 60 minutes per day. A section of the American Heart Association's website was created to provide resources for teachers and school administrators.
According to Jill DiGiacomo, American Heart Association Greater Bay Area Executive Director, the Play 60 challenge is a national initiative that helps young people set the stage for living a healthy lifestyle.
"We're here to celebrate all that the students have accomplished in learning about physical activity and the importance of getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day of the week," DiGiacomo said. "The role of the Raiders is really to show the students how physical activity can be so much fun and it's so easy and to really get them moving and inspired. We know one of the best ways to prevent heart disease as well as stroke is to both have a healthy diet as well as to exercise regularly."
The players and cheerleaders were split up into two groups and escorted to two separate classrooms by the student body president and vice president respectively. The players and cheerleaders participated in classroom activities with the students and teachers that emphasized physical fitness. High energy was palpable throughout the school as even the teachers sported "eye black."
"They're doing their own PSAs for healthy living and wellness," Roach said. "They had to draw sketches of the skit that they're going to perform, that they're going to record later. We're just walking around giving them ideas. It's big to be in the community because the people who support us on Sunday, those are the people you want to give to as much as you can, especially to the kids. They look up to us so much and for us to be able to put a positive spin on a lot of the other things in the media as far as professional sports goes I think it goes a long way."
Due to inclement weather, the Gatorade Junior Training Camp portion of the event was moved indoors to the multipurpose room. The rain did not dampen any spirits whatsoever as the excited students ran through football drills. The players, cheerleaders and Raider Rusher mixed in with the kids and cheered them on.
"Any time you can reach the kids and deliver a message to them it's good," Moore said. "They had so much energy it was funny. It was amazing to be a part of that. It was fun to interact with them. That's how we make a living, it's good for your body, mentally and spiritually. It's better to get it going now with kids, for us to be able to show them that this is what we do, you can do the same thing, it's important to deliver that message."
After the junior training camp and an inspiring speech from Condo, the 4th and 5th grade students and the Raiders, Raiderettes and Raider Rusher took time to pose for photographs. Moore even taught the kids his sack celebration dance.
According to Susan Drews, Indian Valley Elementary Principal, the visit was important and inspiring to the students and the teachers.
"I'm very excited, I'm really proud of them. They worked very hard. I appreciate the 4th and 5th grade teachers doing that work and getting on board and supporting their students," Drews said. "It's so inspiring to them to see people who are doing things that are this important in the limelight and talking to them about the importance of fitness and living a healthy life."
Drews also mentioned that the event went a long way to demonstrate the Raiders commitment to the community and their place in children's lives.
"I think it says a lot about them as people and as players, I really respect [the Raiders] giving back," Drews said. "That's one of the things we teach our students is that they have a responsibility to serve."
The NFL Play 60 initiative is a league-wide, national program designed to fight childhood obesity. There is currently one other active program in which your child may participate - the Play 60 Super Kid Contest. Find out more, the deadline to enter is Monday, November 25, at 9:00 p.m. PT.