Roosevelt Elementary School in Rahway, NJ, was selected as the grand prize winner of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's Jets Play 60 *Eat Right Move More *program due to its emphasis on fitness and nutrition, and on Tuesday afternoon, the school was rocking. "J-E-T-S" chants filled the air, and the only sight more common than a green shirt was a kid's smile as the students, teachers and staff eagerly awaited K Nick Folk's arrival.
After speaking to the kindergartners and first- and second-graders about the importance of diet and exercise, Folk moved over to the auditorium and repeated his message for the kids in grades three through six. He then fielded questions about playing for the Jets, kicking with the game on the line, and even who his favorite superhero is (he went with all of the Avengers), before transitioning into trivia with signed posters, hats and footballs as prizes.
"It's awesome," Folk said. "They're young kids, so they need a little extra motivation to get through and hopefully we can do that. I think they were pretty excited for the day, and I feel great that I've done my part to instill just a little bit more knowledge, even if it's just to eat one more piece of fruit a day for the Eat Right Move More program."
"The message of making healthy choices can sometimes fall on deaf ears when they keep hearing it and hearing it," Roosevelt principal Rocco Collucci said. "Here's another person, a voice they don't know, a celebrity that comes in, and he's a person who makes his living by staying healthy, so it's a really powerful message coming from a professional athlete."
In addition to the Nick Folk-led assembly, Roosevelt Elementary received a $5,000 check toward a kitchen makeover thanks to the Jets Foundation and American Dairy Association & Dairy Council. Six students will represent the school this Sunday, Dec. 8, as the Jets host the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium.
Also, as winners of the contest, a minimum of 100 Roosevelt students will participate in the Jets Play 60 Challenge, doing some sort of physical activity for at least one hour every day for four weeks straight.
It's very important for these kids to develop healthy eating and exercise habits at a young age, even if it takes a bit of peer pressure to get them there, Folk said.
"When I was little," he said, "I convinced my brothers to go out, they convinced me to go out when I didn't want to and 'Yeah, OK, sure,' and then you enjoy it and you get that adrenaline rush from playing with your brothers or friends. Peer pressure is probably one of the best ways to get these kids to stay healthy. If you just get a group of people to really buy into it, I think you can change the way people think about it."