The exuberant children of Renaissance Academy in San Jose stood anxiously at the school's entrance, holding their 49ers banners high, waiving their hands in the air, and chanting for their favorite team. It painted the fan welcome every team loves to see after an electrifying Sunday victory. The now familiar symbol of the NFL's Play 60 Initiative - a yellow school bus displaying Play 60 "Join the Movement" signage - rolled up to the school, and unloaded ten smiling men in red, accompanied by members of the Gold Rush cheerleading squad and 49ers mascot, Sourdough Sam. Safety CJ Spillman and fullback Bruce Miller led the pack through the crowd and into the auditorium where they met Renaissance Academy's youth for an assembly to kick off the fourth annual Super School Visit with the NFL and 49ers.
"The enthusiastic welcoming was great," expressed running back Marcus Lattimore, "We hope to provide the same support to these kids as they have provided for us through the Play 60 Initiative and by teaching them the value behind incorporating physical fitness and nutrition into their lives."
Each year, the NFL hosts a contest for schools in each of the thirty-two markets to be awarded a $10,000 health and wellness grant, new PE equipment, and a Super School Visit from their local NFL football team. In addition to the thirty-two in market winners, two out-of-market schools are chosen, recognizing a total of thirty-four Play 60 Super Schools. To be selected, schools must demonstrate the most unique and significant commitment to their NFL team, have an integrated physical education program, and dedication to a health and wellness program through a series of essays..
"We are encouraging youth to get up, get out and get active however they can for at least 60 minutes a day," stated NFL Director of Marketing, Shannon Smith, "I hope these kids see how fit and successful the 49ers players are and that they understand that this comes from dedicating time to engaging in physical activity. Through this event, we hope the kids aspire to work just as hard to live a healthy fit lifestyle."
With the assembly underway, Linebackers Corey Lemonier and Nick Moody shared their healthy eating and exercise habits as they sat on a panel with Luke Marquardt, Kevin McDermott, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson and their other teammates. With nearly one-third of the nation's youth being categorized as overweight, the players highlighted the importance of staying in school, eating right and being active for sixty minutes a day to live a fuller and more engaging life. Once they had delivered their messages, it was time to put the Play 60 movement into action through a series of fun-filled fitness exercises on the blacktop outside.
"We love being out here with these kids while educating and encouraging them to get outside and be active sixty minutes a day," said 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, "We are teaching them drills, teamwork and a variety of activities they can incorporate to live a healthy lifestyle."
"The students will walk away today knowing that if they work hard, give one hundred percent, and are passionate about doing so, that they too can be at the top of their game – just like the 49ers," added Principal Doug Kleinhenz.
The sixty minutes of fitness included jumping rope led by long snapper Kevin McDermott, a variation of dumbbell exercises and football drills showcased by all of the players. Quinton Dial also taught the importance core strengthening for not only defensive linemen, but for all individuals.
"The Play 60 movement, taking care of kids and making sure they are healthy and active, has always been a top priority for the 49ers organization," expressed 49ers Youth Football Manager Jared Muela, "The mission goes beyond football, so we hope these kids get outside, do something they enjoy, get their heart rate up and get some exercise. "
As the day concluded, the 49ers walked away with another sixty minutes checked off their daily list of workouts, and the children of Renaissance Academy left with fresh insight on the multiple ways they can incorporate sixty minutes of play to enhance their lives, meet their goals, and aspire to exceed expectations.
Join the movement and learn more about how to bring the Play 60 Bus to your school by visiting http://www.nflrush.com/bus