Former Viking player urges healthy lifestylePublished 11:19am Friday, February 22, 2013
A picture of good health, former NFL linebacker Ben Leber, told seventh graders at Kennedy Secondary school Thursday they are ahead of the game — he didn’t learn about good nutrition until college.
“It’s so important the food that you put in your body,” said Leber. “Nutrition is just as important to being an athlete as performance on the field.”
The former NFL Vikings player took the opportunity to speak to kids at Kennedy as part of the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program created in partnership with the National Dairy Council and the National Football League that encourages students to eat healthy, be active and implement positive, healthy changes at school.
“Focus, please focus on breakfast. It is a national study that you guys study better, exercise better and your overall well-being is much better when you eat a good healthy breakfast,” said Leber, who also encouraged kids to take a cooking class to learn more about healthy eating.
Part of the Fuel Up to Play program includes “The Super Bowl Breakfast Challenge,” which encouraged students to develop tasty new oatmeal recipes and ideas for sharing the creations with their peers. Winning recipes from across the country — including oatmeal smoothies, muffins, yogurt parfaits and granola — are now being added as breakfast options in schools.
The winning recipe, oatmeal muffins, from Kennedy Secondary School was submitted by sophomore Kayla Hexum as part of an assignment in Kathryn Enderson’s Family and Consumer Science class.
“The students collaborated on some fun recipes and ideas for getting their friends to try them,” said Kathryn Enderson, Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisor.
Hexum and four other Fuel Up to Play student embassadors, Jacob Marvel, Brandon Soland, Nicholas Hohrman and Brooke Grewe, had an opportunity meet Leber and have their photo taken with him before Leber addressed the larger group of students and teachers.
“It is a cool opportunity to meet him,” said Hexum, who said her family eats pretty healthy at home.
In Minnesota, the Fuel Up to Play 60 program is provided by Midwest Dairy Council and the Minnesota Vikings, and arranged for Leber to address students about the importance of fueling up with a healthy breakfast each day, and emphasize the importance of daily physical activity.
“Having been with the NFL, it was a natural fit to talk about nutrition,” said Leber, who explained that the NFL has a nutrition system that color codes each food selection to assist athletes in making healthy food choices.
Leber began his football career as a running back at Vermillion High School in Vermillion, S.D. He went on to play college football at Kansas State and was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2002. After stints with the Chargers, the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams, he retired in 2012.
Nearly 73,000 schools across the country participate in Fuel Up to Play 60. The program is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools.
Student-led teams, under the supervision of adult Program Advisors, choose from a variety of nutrition and fitness activities and are encouraged to invite their peers to participate.
Local and national contests and grant funding opportunities allow schools to earn rewards and continue the efforts in their communities, and progress can be tracked online.
“Fuel Up to Play 60 has given students and staff the tools to make positive changes in their schools,” says Lisa McCann, a registered dietitian and Health and Wellness Program Manager for Midwest Dairy Council. “The program model allows students and staff to tailor health and wellness program initiatives that work well for their student body and their community.”
Youth can get involved with a series of Fuel Up to Play 60 Challenges throughout the year. Each Challenge focuses on a different aspect of the program and provides the opportunity for students to collaborate with their peers to showcase what they’ve learned about “fueling up” with nutrient-rich foods and getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
For more information about Fuel Up to Play 60, please visit www.MidwestDairy.com or www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.