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Safety Erik Coleman Inspires Queens Kids To Eat Smart; Stay Healthy


Stew Rapheal, Athletic Director of P.S./I.S. 266 in Bellarose, Queens gave his students a pop quiz last Tuesday morning.

He peppered the several hundred sixth, seventh and eighth graders gathered in their school auditorium with questions such as: What position does New York Jet Erik Coleman play? What college did he attend? Who is his idol? And, what types of healthy foods does he eat?

The prizes: a Jets t –shirt personally handed to the winning students by Erik Coleman himself.

But, the students won more than just t-shirts. They were inspired by Coleman who, when asked to define heroism, told the kids, "A hero is someone who goes out of his way to help others, someone who is selfless, who has a kind heart."

And, that's just the spirit that Coleman brought to P.S./I.S. 266 to launch the What Moves U campaign - a national youth movement and awareness campaign sponsored by the National Football League and the American Heart Association designed to promote physical fitness and healthy living to an increasingly inactive generation of children.

"Education is really important, but my mantra includes only two things – healthy and happy and they go hand in hand. Without your health, everything else is a struggle in life," said P.S./I.S. Principal Ken Morris. "We are very happy to have Erik Coleman come here today. Taking his day off to do something like this sets a really good example for our students."

Coleman answered dozens of questions about how he maintains a healthy lifestyle. After revealing information to them about the types of foods he eats (a hearty breakfast and a lot of fruit and vegetables) to his workout regiment (several hours each day and yoga on his days off) to the importance of education (without working hard in school he never would have received the college scholarship which allowed him to compete and become an NFL player), Coleman headed into the gym for some one-on-one drills with the students.

"It gives me great pride to be involved with this campaign," said Coleman. "It is very important to me that our kids know how critical it is for them to get out and play and not sit around all day watching TV or playing video games. It is good to see those kids out here working hard and enjoying it."

The initiative incorporates several key elements: an in-school activity kit created for teachers, by teachers, which includes curriculum-based activity sheets, program-specific learning materials and school promotional materials; and an interactive fitness-focused website for children. A national public awareness campaign that will include television, radio, print, and cinema PSAs, and community outreach events sponsored by the New York Jets and the American Heart Association are also a part of the initiative.

Unique to other physical fitness programs for students, the What Moves U in-school activation kit is being developed for teachers of various academic disciplines to help them find ways to integrate physical activities into their existing lesson plans.

More than 15,000 middle schools nationwide will receive the activation kit, and teachers will have the opportunity to download the kit on upon the launch of the program.

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