Six West Iron County students enjoyed a work-out with the Detroit Lions in September as part of Fuel Up to Play 60 Kick Off to School Health at Ford Field. The trip followed a visit to the school by former Lion defensive lineman Luther Elliss in May. Pictured with the Lions mascot are, kneeling, from left, Noah Thomson, Alexis Jacks and Jamie Child; middle row, an unidentified spokesperson for the United Diary Industry of Michigan, third grade teacher Michelle Thomson, Emily Kurtz, Victoria Maloney, Caden Pellizzer and West Iron Wellness Coordinator Denise Maloney; back row, Detroit Lions’ Herman Moore, Nate Burleson and Luther Elliss. (United Dairy Industry of Michigan photo)
DETROIT—It isn’t every day that students get to work out with professional football players, but six students from West Iron County had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Sept. 27 during this year’s Fuel Up to Play 60 Kick Off to School Health at Ford Field here.
Students learned a number of fun and easy-to-implement “plays” that can be incorporated into their nutrition and physical activity programs, inspiring students, schools and communities to create healthier school environments.
The students who attended from West Iron County were Jamie Child, Alexis Jacks, Emily Kurtz, Victoria Maloney, Caden Pellizzer and Noah Thomson, representing grades 4-6.
Traveling with the students was Michelle Thomson, third grade teacher, and Denise Maloney, Wellness coordinator for West Iron County Schools.
West Iron School is one of 34 Michigan schools participating in this year’s Fuel Up to Play 60 Kick Off to School Health event.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a student-driven in-school wellness program developed by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2008 to help improve schools’ nutrition and physical activity environments.
“Many children are missing out on essential nutrients and adequate physical activity, which may increase risk of overweight and lead to chronic health problems,” said a spokesperson for the Fuel Up to Play 60 wellness program.
Through Fuel Up to Play 60, students are empowered to work with school decision-makers to plan and implement strategies to increase the amount of nutritious food choices and options for physical activity available in their schools.
This effort encourages at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity and eating nutrient-rich foods including low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“We’re very excited that our school was selected to attend this year’s event at Ford Field,” said Maloney.
“It’s an opportunity for these students to take part in a special leadership activity that will have a positive effect on the entire student body.
“We’re looking forward to implementing the new ideas they brought back and will encourage students to embrace these healthy lifestyle changes.”
This year’s kickoff event, the third annual, was presented by the Detroit Lions, Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM).
The day’s “game plan” included music, motivational talks, practicing football training camp-style skills with Detroit Lions players and trainers and tasty food.
The pre-game included a healthy breakfast, followed by an energetic pre-game show with Jill Jayne, “Jump with Jill!” rock star nutritionist and registered dietician.
The first quarter kicked off with a pep talk by Luther Elliss, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle and two-time Pro Bowler, and Herman Moore, former Detroit Lions wide receiver and four-time Pro Bowler, followed by the announcement of individual school “teams” as they ran through the player tunnel onto the field for the second quarter “training camp.”
Here, students were led through practice drills with Ellis, Moore, Lions trainers, and current Lions defensive end Cliff Avril.
The halftime show revolved around a “taste and vote” tailgate, where participants sample a variety of healthy menu options, voted for their favorites, and heard from National FUTP 60 Student Ambassador Tyler Kwapis.
During the third quarter, former physical educator and action-based learning expert Jean Blaydes Madigan revealed the secret of boosting brain power through exercise.
The fourth quarter featured “training tips” on eating healthy and being active from Nate Burleson, current Lions wide receiver.
The “post-game celebration” showcased what may be the state’s largest flash workout session to the tune of the Jill Jayne’s, “Beat Of Our Body,” an energizing dance routine created by the Rockstar Nutritionist.
In its third year, Fuel Up to Play 60 is reaching more than 3,000 Michigan schools and more than 1.4 million Michigan students.
To date, more than 70,000 schools have participated in the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program in the United States and provided opportunities to make positive and lasting changes to nutrition and physical activity programs affecting millions of students.
To learn more about the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program, visit www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.