The Oakland Raiders visited Indian Valley Elementary School in Walnut Creek, winner of the NFL Play 60 Challenge, Tuesday morning. WR James Jones, OL Tony Bergstrom and CB Keith McGill spoke with the students about the importance of exercise and eating healthy and then helped lead the kids through football drills.
This is the second year in a row Indian Valley Elementary has won the challenge. A joint program between the American Heart Association, the Oakland Raiders and the NFL, the Play 60 Challenge encourages students to be active 60 minutes a day (30 minutes at school and 30 minutes at home) and encourage physical activity year-round.
"This is our second time having the Raiders at our school and it was just as much fun and just as amazing the second time," said Indian Valley Elementary School principal Susan Drews. "The players are wonderful with the kids. It's motivational. Fitness is really important. There's research that shows that physical activity makes a difference in kids' learning so we really believe in that. We're excited to get rewarded for working on that."
The Indian Valley Elementary School teachers work with their students on understanding the importance of physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. "Our teachers have activity throughout the day. We have teachers that have walk and talks; we have teachers that have their kids run after recess," explained Drews. "They also talk about activities they can do. We had kids that were really excited, especially since we won last year."
WR James Jones, OL Tony Bergstrom, CB Keith McGill and two Raiderettes visited Indian Valley Elementary, winner of the Play 60 Challenge.
The Raiders were there to reinforce the importance of playing 60 as well as reward the students for their good work. "Today was all about Play 60 – 30 minutes at school, 30 minutes at home – just trying to get the kids to do something extra, eating healthy, staying positive, working towards lifelong goals," said McGill. "We're out here just supporting the winners of the challenge for the second year in a row. We're trying to get them to understand that playing 60 is really important."
It was a fun morning of physical activity as well as a chance for the young students to learn about the players and the Raiderettes. The students asked their special guests thoughtful questions from what they eat to fuel their bodies to what they do in their free time to their favorite team growing up.
"It's big, especially at a young age when young kids see NFL people that they look up to, that they've been super excited to meet," said Jones. "There was a lot of Raiders fans in here, a lot of kids that had on Raiders jerseys, so it was good to get out here and let them know the importance of working out, eating good and hearing it from us rather than their teachers."
The players were happy to be able to reward the school for its hard work. "It's awesome. As a kid, you always want something good to happen for you when you're working hard and these kids have definitely been working hard," said Bergstrom. "We're happy to come out here and be with them and enjoy their success as well."
Drews believes the Raiders visit will have a lasting impact on her students. "I think it really motivates them to stay fit," said Drews. "I think it plays up the importance of fitness for them and I think it makes it real that physical activity is something of value and importance and I think that's something they're going to carry throughout their lives."
Seeing the kids enjoying the event meant a great deal to the school's principal. "It means everything," said Drews. "The most important thing for me is our students and their future and this is something that's going to carry over into their lives and it's fabulous."
Spending time with the students was significant to the players as well. "I'm all about giving back. This is what I do," said Jones. "This is why I started my foundation. It's all about making the kids smile, giving back to the community and having some fun."