Students visit Ford Field to catch some pointers about being healthy
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A group of Grayling Elementary School students recently made a trip to Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions roar and soar, to catch some pointers to keep their peers more active and healthy.
Thirty-four elementary and middle schools throughout Michigan participated in the Fuel Up to Play 60 Rally for School Health on Feb. 18 at Ford Field in Detroit.
Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages young people to participate in an hour of physical activity per day.
Five students from the Grayling Elementary School made the trip to Ford Field. They were chaperoned by Dan Brandt, a fifth grade teacher and student council advisor at the Grayling Elementary School, and Nicole Wethington, a nutrition instructor from Crawford County’s Michigan State University Extension office. Wethington is also a trustee on the Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education.
Brandt said the students learned about teamwork and leadership, so that they could motivate their fellow students to make changes.
“They learned a lot of great things down there about nutrition and about staying active and we’re bringing that back to school here to get the school wide process going,” Brandt said.
The students sampled some new foods as part of their breakfast and lunch. The new foods will be offered at the Grayling Elementary School through taste tests, and may be introduced into the menu of offerings through the cafeteria.
“It will show the kids different foods that are healthy and that they might actually enjoy,” Brandt said.
Teachers also talked about using “brain breaks” in class, when students can get up from their desks, have discussions, move around, get their blood flowing, so they can re-establish themselves to be focused during the day.
“As the day is going on, there are still ways to get the kids up and being interactive in class,” Brandt said.
Students played “an interactive trivia game” with Detroit Lions tight end Cole Wick after running through the tunnel and onto the field. The students participated in other Play 60 activities with Detroit Lions offensive guard Laken Tomlinson and retired Lions kicker Jason Hanson. The students also learned about eating healthy and being active from Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah.
“They were right down there with us, having fun and just being active,” Brandt said of the Lions players and trainers. “They got to run down the tunnel, out on the field, just like Lions do.”
Fifth grader Makayla Watkins said she appreciated the chance to show that girls can bring their game on Ford Field.
“I thought it was a great experience to learn how to play football for everybody, and it shows that girls can do the same things as boys,” she said.
Fifth grader Ben Gardiner said he learned a lot and had fun catching footballs from well known Lions players.
“I thought it was really cool and it was awesome that we got to catch a pass and a touchdown from Jason Hanson,” he said. “It was just a great learning experience on how to stay healthy and active.”
Fifth grader Ethan Kucharek said he learned how the players use nutritious foods to fuel up before they train, practice, and participate in games.
“We tasted different types of wraps and we had a fruit mix,” he said.
Kucharek said he got a kick out of using tackling dummies and running around cones to gauge his football skills on the field.
“It was really cool how they let us get really active with it,” he said.
Fuel Up to Play 60 “is designed to empower young people to become agents of change as they work with key stakeholders and decision makers to develop and implement strategies for increasing access to and consumption of healthy food choices, as well as the amount of physical activity options available in their school district,” according to a press release on the program.
“We’re looking forward to implementing the new ideas our students learned and will continue to encourage these healthy lifestyle changes,” Wethington said. “Experiencing the Fuel Up to Play 60 Rally for School Health event is a special leadership opportunity for these students. They’re able to learn, share, and bring back information and ideas that can have a positive effect on the entire student body for years to come.”
Once spring weather arrives, Brandt said the students and school staff will establish a running club, kick off another season of disc golf, and introduce students to ultimate frisbee.
“It’s just to get the kids doing some different activities,” Brandt said.