The New Orleans Saints celebrated the 15th annual NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Belle Chasse YMCA.
"This is our hometown huddle," said Michel Williamson, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana. "We partner with the Saints and the NFL. This is a tremendous opportunity. We actually get to bring this NFL Play 60 focus here to the Belle Chasse YMCA. We're really happy to partner with the Saints and excited to see these kids out here having a great time."
The Saints transformed two rooms at the Belle Chasse YMCA, one into a youth fitness zone and the other into a fitness-inspired video game and creative arts room. Both rooms were revitalized with Saints furniture and décor.
Saints tackle Charles Brown, long snapper Justin Drescher and defensive end Akiem Hicks began the afternoon with more than 150 children demonstrating the fundamentals of the game in the outdoor area of the facility. Michael Lewis, Saints team ambassador, also participated in drills and games. Children had the opportunity to interact and take photos with the team mascot, Gumbo.
"It's cool to be around the kids, to get to go out and exercise and play with them and help them out," Drescher said. "They need to get out and exercise and see what it's like to have activity in their life."
The children and their families were then given a tour of the new areas of the facility once the Junior Training Camp program concluded. In the youth fitness zone, the players taught the children how to use Saints-branded hydraulic fitness machines, water rowers, aerodynamic bikes, a punching bag and other fitness equipment.
When the participants entered the second room, they were greeted by a wall-to-wall chalk board and poly-pong table. A Xbox Kinect gaming console was connected to a new 60-inch plasma television with sports themed games. Brown and Drescher played a few games of poly-pong with children while Lewis taught them how to bowl using the Xbox Kinect.
"Outside we were just running routes, hopping over the bags and then we have this weight facility set up in here," Brown said. "It's real nice. They got a lot of equipment, a boxing bag and yoga mats, jump ropes. You've got all these kids with all this energy and they just want to throw balls and have fun."