Atlanta Falcons visit to Sweetwater Middle celebrates exercise, nutrition

October 18, 2016 GMT

LAWRENCEVILLE — The general response from a visit by the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday morning by most of the sixth-graders at Sweetwater Middle School was a combination of awesome, amazing and likely the best day of their lives.

Or as they were taught how to respond when asked about the event, they said, with a full body shimmy: G-O-O-D. And the ‘D’ is with emphasis.

Henok Araia was happy to skip class for an hour or so during a workout that featured five stations of various football drills and dances. Jacquetta Hendrix loved jumping through padded dummies and landing on a mat before a touchdown dance. It was certainly different than a typical Tuesday.

“A normal day is great at Sweetwater Middle all the time, but today was extra great,” Kayla Ashe said.

The event featured a visit from Falcons punter Matt Bosher — who celebrated his 29th birthday — as the team and the Southeast United Dairy Association partnered to give $10,000 to Gwinnett County Public Schools in the form of a grant to support school nutrition programs. Ken Yant, the district’s director of School Nutrition, said Sweetwater was chosen for the event by SNP staff, and the money will be used to enhance breakfast and lunch programs in the Berkmar cluster.

“It’s just fun getting out playing,” Bosher said. “I’m blessed to have the job that I do and it allows me to have the platform to go out and affect kids’ lives and go out and interact with these kids. I’m lucky to be able to come out here and do this.”

Along with teachers, administrators and staff, 125 sixth-graders participated.

“What a great way to start a school day,” Principal Jay Nebel said. “What a great surprise. Being selected for such an honor validates the hard work, the drive and the commitment that we witness on a daily basis.”

Developed by the National Football League and its community outreach exercise program, Fuel Up to Play 60, the “Hometown Grants” initiative provides grants to support physical activity and nutrition programs in school districts in all 32 NFL markets.

“It was a blast,” Bosher said. “Play 60 is a great event. They do such a great job making sure these kids are staying healthy, getting active, making healthy dietary choices. … I’m super honored to be a part of Play 60. It’s something I hold very dear to my heart. I think it’s a great platform for these children.”

Through the program, NFL teams and state or regional dairy organizations identify deserving schools in their communities to receive funding that helps facilitate sustainable physical activity and healthy eating programs for students.

At the end of the event, officials encouraged the students to drink water and milk throughout the day following the workout.

Sharon Rhodes, the Southeast Dairy Association manager of school health and wellness, said well-nourished and physically active kids do better in school, “so we are proud to assist in the school district’s efforts.”