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NFL Players Live! In the Community Partners with Real School Gardens to Celebrate McNair Elementary School

On Wednesday, May 4, the 850 students at Ronald E. McNair Elementary School in Dallas, Texas got the chance to team up with some of their heroes to participate in a health and wellness event that added a unique twist to the ways we can move and learn outdoors. NIKE’s NFL PLAYERS Live! In the Community, an initiative of the NFL Players Association, partnered with REAL School Gardens to present a day of activities that propelled students beyond the classroom walls to experience how outdoor education can help them grow as learners and healthier people. McNair Elementary Principal Virginia Lockwood-Terry described it as “a day the children will remember for the rest of their lives” as they interacted with current and former NFL players. 

Thanks to the support of their community and a group of NFL players, kids at one Dallas elementary school discovered that getting outside is fun, healthy and a great way to get hands-on experience learning about math and science. (Photo by Kimberly Hall Alexander)

 After NFL Players Live in the Community guru Willis Whalen got the kids motivated and moving. The event was sparked by the installation of a new, state-of-the-art learning garden on the school’s campus as part of its partnership with REAL School Gardens. “Our organization believes strongly that many of the concepts children are learning in school are best taught outdoors. Today is a perfect example of that. Children are learning about photosynthesis, composting, insects and plants, while engaging in physical activities and observing real processes in action,” said REAL School Gardens Executive Director Jeanne McCarty. At one activity station, third graders joined Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Isaiah Stanback to learn how the right mix of carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials can work together through decomposition to create soil-enriching compost. After enjoying orange slices, each child got a chance to contribute the fruit peels to orb-shaped compost bins and then race their classmates in a compost orb relay! 

For fourth graders, plants came alive in a game called Ready, Set, Photosynthesis! Children took on the roles of leaves, water, and sunlight and did their best to outmaneuver fellow students and NFL Players Association Public Policy Counsel Joe Briggs acting as chloroplasts. As Mr. Briggs can attest, there may be some future NFL running backs amongst McNair’s students! “It is always important to let even our youngest fans know that we care about the environment and that we care about them” said Mr. Briggs. At other stations, students participated in a healthy cooking demonstration and dialogue with Jason Fox from the Detroit Lions and explored their new school garden searching for insects campus with Shaun Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The event was a true demonstration of a community coming together to create a generation of healthier kids. From the students who comprised the David W. Carter High School drum line and kicked off the event to the Dallas Independent School District Trustee Carla Ranger, to keynote speaker and former NFL Player Scott Turner, McNair’s students learned that their success matters to a host of people, at school and beyond. These role models encouraged McNair students to move toward a future that includes active, healthy lifestyles and active, lifelong learning. The NFL Players were at McNair to finish a project that started during the Superbowl, and to thank the kids for letting the NFL Players partner with their school. While onsite the NFL Players took the time encourage students everywhere to get moving and active. As partners with the Lets Move Outside! Initiative, the NFL Players know the importance of getting at least sixty minutes of exercise a day and encourage all children and adults to go outside and play!