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Bill Larson and Jerry Blessing of the contributed to this story
Clarksville, TN – The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System played host to a visit from the Tennessee Titans and Tennessee State Parks at Northeast Middle School on Wednesday as part of the NFL’s Play 60 Initiative.
Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with an impressive roster of partner organizations which in Tennessee includes the Tennessee State Parks, American Heart Association of Middle Tennessee and is focused on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.
This year the Titans Community Relations Department teamed up with the Tennessee State Parks, American Heart Association, and the Southeast Dairy Association to help promote the students participation in the Play 60 program. The school visit is a one-hour program that incorporates interactive videos with coaches, players and student participation.
“We been involved with play 60 for a number years,” said Patty Clements, the communications director for the American Heart Association, Greater Nashville Market. “We are one of Play 60′s national partners. Our interest in it is because we know that physical activity and healthy nutrition goes a very long way towards our help and general health as well.”
Clements spoke about the issue driving Play 60, “We also know that our kids are facing a childhood obesity crisis, which is unprecedented in our history. It is the first time that this generation of children are expected to live a shorter lifespan than their parents. A great deal of that is driven by unhealthy lifestyles such as a lack of physical activity, unhealthy nutrition, and all that.”
Clements continued, “Play 60 is a program that gets to the kids in a way that they can relate to that they’re going to listen to. we’ve seen in a number of programs like Coordinated School Health around the State of Tennessee. Which is one of the best programs in the entire country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention holds up Tennessee as a model for Coordinated School Health, which also addresses those kinds of issues. We have actually started to see a turnaround in the obesity rate in Tennessee. It’s actually started to slow and possibly even decline. It’s something that you really needed and it’s through the efforts community programs, school programs, and government coming together to put emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle.”
House went on to say, “This is such an amazing opportunity to reach out to these kids here at Northeast Middle School. A lot of our outreach tends to stay in our state parks, but this way we get to come to the school and talk to thousands of kids at one time. Since January we’ve done this presentation at 80 schools and reached out to over 50,000 students and staff. So it’s a huge outreach for us.”
Part of the show featured a Tennessee State Parks Ranger with some kind of critter, which on that day happened to be Sonny, a Bald Eagle from Reelfoot Lake. A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Ranger talked to the kids about the types of things that he does, what kind of job it is, and how you go about becoming a Ranger.
Then the Tennessee Titans took center stage, and the kids got really excited! First up was Jerry Blessing, the Tennessee Titans Community Relations Coordinator who arranged for a Teleconference with Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak followed by another with wide receiver #83 Marc Mariani.
“The students heard from Titans head coach Mike Munchak on the importance of studying hard and being prepared for the big game on Sunday, and how it is much like studying in school and getting ready for a test,” said Blessing. “Marc Mariani delivered the message of how drinking milk is important to keep our bodies and bones healthy and strong.”
Each of the Play 60 visits includes a personal visit from a Tennessee Titans Player who talks to the students; at Northeast Middle School, “the big moment finally came when safety #26 Jordan Babineaux came on stage to surprise everyone, including many of the school staff,” Blessing continued.
Babineaux received a huge welcome as he went around the gymnasium giving high fives to students. Then he answered several questions about his life growing up in Texas, and as an NFL player.
One of the questions that was asked of Babineaux was “If drugs, alcohol or even gangs were a part of your life, could you continue to be a professional athlete?” His answer brought a big round of applause from the students…
Babineaux was given a similar opportunity when he was a young man, and so was happy to have the chance to give back to the community.
Blessing held up Babineaux as a role model for his fellow team members, “Babineaux does a lot of work out in the community, he provides a good role model for our rookies to follow.”
“So you’re the leaders of your classroom,” said Babineaux. “You guys have demonstrated the right attitude, the right work ethic, and making good grades. Feel free if you have anything that you want to ask me, except if I’m dating Pamela Anderson; don’t ask me that. I’m not. It’s not true, I don’t know what you may have been told.”
After they finished laughing, the students were then able to ask Babineaux any questions that they liked. The questions ranged from when he started play football, sports that he played in school, and questions about what enabled his success in life.
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Topicsalcohol, American Heart Association, Atlanta Falcons, Bald Eagle, Childhood Obesity, Clarksville Montgomery County School System, Clarksville TN, CMCSS, Coordinated School Health, Drugs, Dunbar Cave State Natural Area, Jerry Blessing, Jessica House, Jonathan Babineaux, Jordan Babineaux, Marc Mariani, Mike Munchak, Mikey Washington, Montgomery County, National Football League, NFL, NFL Play 60, Northeast Middle School, Pamela Anderson, Patty Clements, Port Royal State Park, Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tennessee, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee State Parks and Natural Areas, Tennessee Titans, Texas, Titans, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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