49ers Speak to Local Students

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The San Francisco 49ers took part in the First and Goal program on Monday, Sept. 19, when they visited an after-school classroom to speak to under-resourced middle school youth about the importance of goal setting, making positive choices, and education beyond high school.

The event took place at Augus Boeger Middle School, in the East Side San Jose Mt. Pleasant School District, as part of the Mt. Pleasant After School Program's mission to prepare students to be lifelong learners, who are respectful, responsible risk takers, and who succeed academically to the best of their ability. The focus of the day was to address goal setting and decision-making skills, and help translate aspirations into reality. Superintendant Marianne Engle highlights the importance of after-school programs and their influence on the kids.

"The afterschool programs are essential because they add an immense amount of time into the school day, which keeps them safe," Engle said. "It keeps them happy and connected to wonderful, caring, young adults, so it's very important."

After the players took part in a refresher course of eighth grade algebra, they were introduced to the spirited classroom of eighth graders, who were delighted to greet their surprise guests. The class was separated into small groups, where the children had the opportunity to discuss their short-term and long-term goals with the players. Each group decorated a poster, detailing their dreams and aspirations, and how they planned on reaching their destinations.

49ers linebacker Blake Costanzo was happy to participate in his first community event in California, and describes the enthusiasm amongst his group.

"My group was awesome," Costanzo said. "Basically, we went over what their short-term goals in life would be and what their long-term goal is, and how to accomplish that. We came up with this thing, 'LIVIN,' like living in the moment. Whatever you're doing at the time, be the best at it you can be and be positive."

Costanzo said it was great to see that many of the goals of the youth in his group were academically related. "A lot of them want to do well in school for their short-term goal, which is awesome," he said. "They could have said a lot of other things, but they wanted to get good grades, so I was proud of them for that."

49ers running back Anthony Dixon helped the kids realize that once you reach your goals, you must set new ones in order to continue on the path to success. "We helped them figure out a way to get there. Get the little things to help them get the big things," Dixon said.

When the group sessions were completed, each group had the opportunity to present their goals to the rest of the classroom, complete with a team name and handshake. The exchange of aspirations was inspiring as the kids encouraged each other to share their dreams, and to be confident that they could make them a reality.

Program Coordinator Danny Patton was pleased with the day's success and excited for the kids to get a chance to brainstorm their ambitions with some of their role models.

"It's getting them to think outside the box, things they've never thought of before," Patton said. "It's great for them to hear what the 49ers' goals are, both short and long term, and also just to see them, be around them, and realize they're normal people just like us. I think it's an amazing thing that they'll never forget, and a life-changing experience."

At the end of the event, the 49ers surprised the students by telling them that they would help them accomplish their short term goal of attending a 49ers game and then announced that they were donating tickets for the entire class to travel to Candlestick for an upcoming game.  After whooping with joy, the kids high fived their new 49ers friends and closed out the event with a group cheer.

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