The Buffalo Bills, Independent Health Foundation, and the American Heart Association came together to host the Play 60 Challenge Fitness Party in the ADPRO Sports Training Center. The event welcomed 300 local elementary school students who were randomly selected from the pool of 500 classrooms who participated in the Play 60 Challenge and the Fitness For Kids Challenge throughout the fall. Eleven Bills players were in attendance at the event to run the activity stations and share fitness tips with the students.
The Bills and the NFL have a strong commitment to the Play 60 initiative, which encourages America's youth to be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day. This event included a number of activities designed to encourage Buffalo-area students to be more engaged in physical activity. The challenge teamed up with Independent Health Foundation's Fitness for Kids Challenge – a program that encourages elementary schools in WNY to increase their physical activity and make good nutrition choices.
"The Buffalo Bills are dedicated to making our youth a healthier generation by offering them resources to be physically active and making nutritious choices," said Gretchen Geitter, Bills Vice President of Community Relations. "We are grateful for our partnerships with the Independent Health Foundation and the American Heart Association and join them in our shared goal of making Western New York a healthier, more active community."
Bills players in attendance were QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Karlos Williams, T Jordan Mills, K Dan Carpenter, LS Garrison Sanborn, K Jordan Gay, P Colton Schmidt, CB Mario Butler, QB Josh Johnson, CB Merrill Noel, CB Sammy Seamster. The players greeted the students upon their arrival, with each one introducing themselves and offering a healthy tip they use daily to stay physically fit. Following the introductions, participants split up into groups and enjoyed various physical activity stations hosted by the Bills players and volunteers from Independent Health Foundation and the American Heart Association. The party concluded with a healthy quiz show hosted by the Quizmaster Dennis George. After the event, students headed back to school to enjoy free, healthy lunches.
Students who participated in the Play 60 Challenge and Fitness for Kids Challenge sponsored by Independent Health, and in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program sponsored by the American Dairy Association, formed Stampede Row.
"Teaching children the importance of living a healthy lifestyle at an early age is the goal of the Independent Health Foundation's Fitness for Kids Challenge," said Carrie Meyer, executive director, Independent Health Foundation. "We are excited to once again team up with the Buffalo Bills Play 60 Challenge to bring our health and wellness programs to more than 10,000 elementary students across Western New York. These programs encourage life-long physical activity and healthy eating habits."
This event follows the Play 60 Gameday Celebration at the Bills vs. Texans game on December 6. Randomly selected students who successfully completed the Challenges were on-field during pregame festivities to form Stampede Row to help welcome players onto the field.
"An estimated one in three children ages two to 19 are either overweight or clinically obese, putting them at a greater risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure," Marc Natale, Executive Director of the WNY American Heart Association said.
The typical American diet for children has been cited as a contributor to the problem with foods high in fat and sugar but low in fiber. Lack of regular physical activity and high amounts of screen time in front of televisions and computers has also been cited as an issue for children's health, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015.
"Children even younger than 8-years-old likely have signs of heart disease. Understanding the long-term ramifications of this will be critical as we deal with the impact of the pediatric obesity epidemic and encourage at least 30-minutes of physical activity each day among children," Natale said.