Safety Ryan Clark brought his high energy to Whittier Elementary School on Tuesday morning as a part of the NFL’s Play 60 Super School Visit.
Clark, who was named the Steelers Walter Payton Man of the Year for his on-field play and off-the-field community involvement, spoke to the students about the importance of good health and getting 60 minutes of exercise a day.
He then took it to another level when he and rookie Kelvin Beachum led 50 kids who won the chance to participate in fitness activities during an NFL Play 60 Keep Gym in School Physical Education Class.
“It was a good time today,” said Clark. “The kids were extremely energetic, very excited we could come to their school. I had an awesome time.”
Clark knows how important it is for kids to be active, as he is a father of three that, as he will tell you, don’t sit still often.
“I think that is the big message, to say not only do I support it because the NFL and the school are doing it, this is the way I raise my children,” said Clark. “This is something I want my children to be a part of. It makes them relate to you better when you have kids that play soccer, basketball or football. They say this guy is not that bad.”
Clark also presented the school with a $10,000 NFL Play 60 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment.
Whittier won the contest, which is a part of the NFL’s Back to Football campaign, by starting the school year and the Steelers’ season off with football themed activities. Students wore their favorite player jersey or other Steelers’ apparel and learned about the history of the game, as well as fun football facts and football skills.
Students had the opportunity to work on those skills on a daily basis at recess, naming their own football teams and each child being a player from that team in recess games.
Lee Dreshman, the school’s Health and Physical Education teacher, entered Whittier in the contest, inspired by his own opportunity to meet former Steelers running back Walter Abercrombie back in 1983 through a contest, and he still had a picture of him with the running back that has always inspired him.
“It’s something that meant a lot to me and I wanted the students to have the same feeling I had back when I was in second grade when I met a Steeler,” said Dreshman. “It was a big deal for me and I felt like I was on top of the world. I will always remember that visit and I wanted to pay it forward to the students here at Whittier. It was a big deal that day.”
Clark hopes that down the road his visit to the school will have the same impact on a child.
“You can’t see it today,” said Clark. “You see the smiles and you love that, but you don’t know the lasting impact. Seeing a coach come in and say here is a picture of me when I was a kid and him still remember that day, makes you think maybe going out and doing these things will impact children for the rest of their lives.”