Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson impacted nearly 400 sixth-graders from five surrounding Morris County schools this morning at Madison Junior High School.
While the event officially kicked off the fourth annual Jets Play 60 Challenge presented by Kinect for Xbox 360, Wilson spoke to students from Madison Junior School, St. Vincent the Martyr School, Holy Family School, Ridgedale Middle School and Harding School about the importance of exercising 60 minutes each day.
"I think it just comes with being a role model and a positive influence," Wilson said of why he is involved with the Play 60 challenge. "Being in this position, I just want to take advantage."
The Play 60 Challenge is a six-week program created by the NFL and the American Heart Association that encourages students to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity in school and an additional 30 minutes of physical activity outside of school.
Wilson emphasized to the students that exercising 60 minutes daily allows an individual to be healthier, stronger and happier, while also stating that engaging in exercise will provide a more confident lifestyle and help prevent disease.
His message also informed ways students can get involved and accomplish their goal of 60 minutes of daily exercise, listing examples such as being active in physical education class, recess, and at home around family and friends.
"It just makes your heart feel good," Wilson said. "Obviously helping the kids out in today's youth, I just think you're empowering the youth of today, helping out society."
Wilson, whose nickname is "K-Dub," made it known to the students how he stays active away from football. He said that eating healthy (fruit and salad at every meal), walking his dog and playing basketball in the offseason all play roles in keeping him active.
After Wilson finished speaking with the group, the students had the opportunity to ask him questions, which ranged from "When did you start playing football?" to "Are you married?" to "Have you ever taken ballet?" to "What was your academic level in school?"
"With kids, I know you're going to get every end of the spectrum," he said. "I definitely wasn't surprised. I was just excited that the kids were so excited to be paying attention and taking in all that information."
When the Q&A session completed, the students were tested to see how much they remembered from what Wilson had told them. If they answered a question correctly, they received a prize. Wilson signed all of the prizes, which included a Play 60 T-shirt, a Jets football, a Jets hat and a Jets yearbook.
All students in attendance received Jets stickers, pencils and keychains, and if they successfully complete the Play 60 Challenge, they will be entered into a raffle. The raffle grand prize is awarded to two students from each school (one male, one female) and the winners will get a Kinect for Xbox 360 console and the opportunity to lead the Jets out of the tunnel in their game against the New England Patriots on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving night.
"I think the kids are definitely excited," Wilson said. "I think most of the kids will finish the program as they've done the last couple years. We'll have a lot of kids contesting for the winner."
Wilson, now in his third year a part of the Play 60 Challenge, said this morning's group was the best and most fun he's spoken to.
"They were very retentive today and answered a lot of questions in the Q&A," the cornerback said. "I was surprised with it. They were very involved."
While No. 20 admitted that he never experienced during his grade-school days what the nearly 400 students were able to do this morning, he said, "I did have an opportunity to go back to my middle school last year. That was pretty nice to be able to give back to the actual school that I went to."
The Jets and the AHA will also implement the Jets Play 60 Challenge presented by Kinect for Xbox 360 at the Chatham and Summit middle schools, reaching an additional 625 students.