Feature Image: Students at Sulphur Springs K-8 practice football drills with former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jerry Bell as part of NFL Players Week with Fit and Fun at the Y!
Students at afterschool programs around Tampa Bay recently had the chance to hear from former NFL players and a current Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach about healthy eating, the importance of academics and respecting caregivers.
The players also interacted with students and answered questions about playing in the NFL and the steps they took to join the league. The week marked the first time former players have collaborated with the Tampa YMCA for “NFL Player Week with Fit and Fun at the Y”.
Students enjoyed hearing firsthand about “what it takes” to be a professional athlete. They had questions about what it was like to play in the pros, what an NFL player eats each day and how education helped these athletes become professionals.
The highlight for many was to learn a few drills and toss the football with the players. For these children, the chance to play ball with a real football player was something they had only dreamed of and they were so excited to do in real life.
“There are so many negative things that can influence [the students] so why not use your position and your platform to get them to do the right thing?” says Maurice Stovall, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Program Director with the Y.
Maurice and colleagues organized the NFL players’ visits as a way to help encourage healthy habits, demonstrate the need to stay in school and respect authority figures. Players shared their personal stories of growing up, and how education was a big factor in their success.
The Fit and Fun at the Y program is a curriculum-based program that focuses on fitness and nutrition education, increasing physical activity levels, and preventing childhood obesity to children enrolled in the YMCA afterschool programs.
The program utilizes Fitbits for fitness level tracking and each parent/caregiver has the opportunity to complete a CPR/AED certification to help keep our kids healthy and safe. This is a grant-funded program in partnership with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County that allows the Tampa YMCA to provide this program at no cost to enrolled children and their families.
*Presented by the YMCA