What if NFL players came to your school? With the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, nutrition and exercise are promoted during the school day. NFL players participate in the program by coming to schools and talking to students about fitness. Learn more about the program and some of the schools that are implementing it.
Healthy bodies are the first step to preparing young minds for the rigors of academic studies. Research has shown a very direct link between the physical health of students and their academic success. One program that has successfully merged the two is Fuel Up to Play 60, a nutrition and physical activity program designed for the classroom. This year marks the third anniversary of the successful program, and more schools than ever before are gearing up for motivating students to develop healthy lifestyle habits and take charge of their physical health.
What is Fuel Up to Play 60?
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a partnership program between the National Dairy Council and the National Football League. The program also receives significant support from the United States Department of Agriculture. The fundamentals of Fuel Up to Play 60 include teaching children how to make nutritious food choices and encouraging them to get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every single day. The program comes at a key point, with obesity among children reaching nearly epidemic proportions currently. Today, children are facing many of the obesity-related health conditions that were once reserved for adults only, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and the early signs of cardiovascular disease.
“We need to provide today’s youth with opportunities to own their health decisions and access fun ways to live a healthy lifestyle,” Jean Ragalie, RD, President of the National Dairy Council, stated in a press release at PR Web. “Fuel Up to Play 60 does just that, connecting students with tangible ways to take a stand against childhood obesity.”
Make it Your Own
The Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to be implemented through public schools, but there is no specific formula for what the plan needs to look like. Schools have the ability to customize the program to their unique student population, teaching students to take control of their own health by choosing the foods and activities that work best for them. The program offers numerous resources to help each school get the plan off the ground, including in-school promotional materials, a Fuel Up to Play 60 website with information and online tools for students and educators and student challenges to maintain interest in the program throughout the school year.
The NFL and Play 60
The National Football League also gets directly involved with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, with football players visiting many of the schools in person to inspire and inform students about healthy lifestyle choices. While the NFL is primarily focused on the physical activity aspect of the program, the importance of nutrition is also emphasized through the professional athletes that take part in the program.
“The National Football League is strongly committed to helping the next generation of youth achieve healthier lifestyles,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated in the same press release. “Entering its fifth year, our NFL Play 60 campaign encourages kids to get active and play 60 minutes a day. We are pleased that Fuel Up to Play 60 extends that message to include healthy eating. Through Fuel Up to Play 60, we help young people to discover that healthy habits can be both fun and empowering.”
To provide more students with access to some of the NFL players involved in the NFL Play 60 program, a new initiative was launched between GENYOUth Foundation and Discovery Education. The two organizations partnered together last month to bring a live webinar featuring the New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to more classrooms across the country. According to a press release at Market Watch, this webinar, titled, “Feed Your Mind with Exercise and Nutrition,” was held the end of September and allowed students to ask Sanchez questions during the presentation.
“I’m proud to partner with GENYOUth and Discovery Education on this important initiative that inspires and educates youth about good nutrition and exercise,” Sanchez stated in the press release. “Our nation’s kids have the potential to be stronger and healthier than previous generations with the right support, so I’m happy to join the movement to make this happen.”
Garcia Middle School Receives Grant for Program
Many schools across the country receive grants from local organizations to fund the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. One such recipient of a $3,000 grant is Garcia Middle School in Texas. According to a report at Your Houston News, the school recently received the money from Dairy MAX, Inc. to implement the healthy program for students and staff. With the funding, Garcia plans to initiate a walking club and a “Wellness Wednesday” fitness program. Addressing nutrition, the school also plans to develop an indoor garden and include a Wellness Fair each year, along with its Math and Science Night.
“Research has shown a significant correlation between students’ health and their academic success,” Garcia principal Joseph Chandler told Your Houston News. “Not only do we want our students to achieve success academically and socially, but we also want them to be successful at maintaining healthy eating and daily physical habits. This program will help lead them in the right direction.”
Numerous schools across the country, from elementary schools to high schools are joining the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative. As childhood obesity rates continue to climb, programs like this one are becoming more necessary to teach children healthy habits for their bodies, even while they nurture their minds in the classroom every day.
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