It was a perfect fall day for getting outside and being active and that is exactly what Steelers’ quarterback Charlie Batch and the team’s rookies did on Tuesday, taking part in the 14th Annual NFL/United Way Hometown Huddle, with students from Pittsburgh’s Saint Benedict the Moor School.
The Hometown Huddle is a day of volunteerism in every NFL city, and the Steelers brought the NFL’s Play60 message to the school’s fifth through eighth grade students.
“It’s always exciting to be a part of things like this,” said Batch, the Steelers United Way spokesman. “It’s what it’s all about. We are encouraging the kids to get 60 minutes of activity, make sure they are eating healthy. That is something that no matter what part of life you are in you are going to have to continue to do. What better way for them to come out and be a part of what the Steelers are doing.”
The visit by the Steelers was a surprise for the students, and as each player introduced themselves the energy level on the playground grew.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but as soon as I saw Chris Rainey and some of the other Steelers I was pretty excited,” said eighth grader Antonio Cheatom. “It’s a blast, having fun with my friends and Steelers. They taught me playing 60 minutes a day keeps you fit and you can have a better life. You should be active every day. I love to be active. I play basketball. I don’t care if it’s nice or cold out, I love to go outside and play. Playing video games can get boring but getting outside and playing basketball you meet new people. You can’t do that playing a video game.”
The players took the kids through drills set up by strength and conditioning assistants Marcel Pastoor and Ray Jackson, teaching them the proper technique and then participating right alongside them.
“Each one of us was one of these kids when we were little,” said tackle Mike Adams. “NFL Play60 and United Way are doing a great thing out here. With some of the problems kids are facing with childhood obesity and things like that, to come out and spread the message is important. I was a kid who my mom had to come hunt me down when the street lights came on. Back when I was a kid we were always outside.”
While some kids might have struggled a little bit to get the ball in the basketball hoop, or others didn’t have perfect footwork, the one thing you saw from all of them was the desire to keep working at it and the enjoyment they got out of trying.
“We have been pushing more activity and getting children more fit,” said Principal Joelynn Parham. “We talk about proper eating habits. Our children come out at lunch time and we have organized activity for them to stay fit and healthy along with me. We are so happy to have them on the playground today and the children active. They are so excited to have the Steelers here.”
Punter Drew Butler even challenged his teammates to some of the drills he was conducting, with Batch and David Paulson sweating it out right alongside the kids.
“This is a blast,” said Butler. “It’s always good to hang out with kids. They want to be active. It’s fun. We like to teach them what we do. It’s all for a good cause. Play60 is awesome so I am having fun out here.
“When you think about what you did when growing up it was about getting outside and playing football, riding bikes, running around playing kick the can or capture the flag, those are fun activities and it’s great to get out here and see that.”
The Hometown Huddle also is a part of the United Way’s new fitUnited Pittsburgh, an initiative that brings adults who are influential in the lives of kids together to stress to the importance of making the right decisions for a healthy lifestyle.
“We have a long standing relationship with the Steelers and the Rooney family to make our community a better place,” said Bob Nelkin, President of the United Way. “Today’s event is all about kids being active and having good nutrition so they can avoid preventable childhood diseases.
“It’s exciting the Steelers are the messengers. Everyone in this town gets excited to hear from the Steelers. Here you have people who are elite athletes. But you don’t have to be an elite athlete to improve your physical condition. You need to be physically active and observe good nutrition. The Steelers are great. They are out here as usual getting the kids to be active and fit.”
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