Many National Football League wide receivers are fit to be tied after matching up against Nnamdi Asomugha. Now the Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl cornerback wants to help keep kids fit by keeping gym class in schools around the country.
Asomugha is serving as the first national spokesperson for NFL Network's 2010 "Keep Gym in School" initiative, which is also adding a new component to the campaign -- a "PE Teacher of the Year" award. The public can nominate PE teachers online at www.keepgyminschool.com through Jan. 31. The winning teacher, announced in Manhattan during the 2011 NFL Draft Week, will receive a $10,000 award in addition to a $10,000 grant for his/her school's PE program.
"I am honored to support The NFL Network's Keep Gym in School Program because I believe that physical education is an essential component of a complete education," said Asomugha about his role with the program."PE courses educate children on the benefits of an active lifestyle and the importance of team work and perseverance; skills which have contributed greatly to my own personal career and life successes."
As part of the pro football league's NFL PLAY 60 youth health and fitness campaign aimed at battling childhood obesity, Keep Gym in School is NFL Network's national program to boost fitness and physical education in America's middle schools.
During its first two years, the program has awarded nearly $600,000 in grants to 45 schools, improving PE for more than 348,000 students in 24 districts. Additionally, custom lesson plans have been provided to PE teachers at 196 schools; Fitness Challenges, created in partnership with National Association for Sport and Physical Education, have been implemented at 417 schools; and best-in-class professional development has been provided to close to 200 teachers.
This year, NFL players -- Asomugha, Brian Dawkins from the Denver Broncos, Antwaan Randle El and Rashard Mendenhall from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michael Turner from the Atlanta Falcons - have or will visit the four middle schools that have each been awarded a $25,000 grant. The players have or will lead the students in a pep rally, unveil the new physical education equipment and facilities and participate in an on-field, minicamp with fitness tests and football-inspired drills at Kepner Middle School (Denver), Camp Creek Middle School (Atlanta), Roosevelt Middle School (Pittsburgh) and Arsenal Middle School (Oakland).
Comcast is the new, exclusive partner for the 2010 NFL Network Keep Gym in School program, donating media value to air public service announcements in the entertainment provider's markets to help spread the word about the importance of physical education.
"Comcast is proud to partner with NFL Network on its Keep Gym in School campaign to help raise awareness about the importance of quality physical education programs in schools," said Charisse Lillie, vice president of community investment for Comcast and executive vice president, Comcast Foundation, in a statement. "This program tackles the serious health issue of childhood obesity in our country by providing resources that will help kids live healthier lives."
Added Dena Kaplan, senior vice president of marketing at NFL Network:
"NFL Network created the Keep Gym in School program with the goal of increasing access to in-school physical activity and teaching kids the skills they need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Only 35% of students are physically active for 60 minutes at least 5 days per week. And many schools are cutting back on PE programs due to of lack of resources at the same time that childhood obesity rates are climbing."
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