Saints' Rita Benson LeBlanc, Deuce McAllister and NFL Network's Scott Hanson Broke Ground on Refurbishments and Kicked "Off In School Fitness Challenge"
<span style="">NFL Network's New Program Includes Partnerships with Cox Communications, The President's Challenge, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and the New Orleans Saints</span>
On Tuesday, NFL Network, Cox Communications and the New Orleans Saints broke ground on gym refurbishments at Truman Middle School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana as part of the Keep Gym in School initiative. Truman was been adopted by and will benefit from an approximately $55,000 grant as a part of the inaugural year of Keep Gym in School, a national initiative to keep physical education and activity in America's schools. The grant provides several physical education improvements for the school including new physical education equipment and building a new outdoor running track.
As part of the groundbreaking event, Saints running back Deuce McAllister and NFL Network's Scott Hanson participated in a pep rally and led students in a football-themed field day to assess students' fitness levels as part of an In-School Fitness Challenge. The challenge was designed to motivate students to stay healthy and active throughout the year culminating with one Truman Middle School student being invited to a Keep Gym in School Honors event held in New York City during the week of the 2009 NFL Draft.
"It is our goal that Keep Gym in School will become a catalyst for all middle schools across the country to make physical education a priority," said Dena Kaplan, senior vice president marketing, NFL Network. "With the help of Cox Communications and the New Orleans Saints, we will offer every student the best opportunity to learn skills needed to establish and sustain healthy, active lifestyles."
In addition to the new field, track and equipment being provided by NFL Network, the school system will be investing more than $300,000 into the school by installing a new roof and a new locker room.
"Truman Middle School students are fortunate benefit from this extremely important initiative by NFL Network, Cox Communications and the New Orleans Saints, to help our students build healthy lives" said Dr. Diane Roussel, superintendent, Jefferson Parish School District. "Their investment has inspired us to add to Keep Gym in School's commitment by refurbishing the roof on the gym and locker room."
On Sunday, December 7, the Saints have invited Truman Middle School administrators and students onto the field for a special pre-game presentation by NFL Network, Cox Communications and the Saints followed by an exciting game against the Atlanta Falcons.
"Physical Education teaches the skills kids need to achieve their dreams," said McAllister. "To lend my support to NFL Network and Cox Communications as they give these kids the tools they need to get on track to healthier lives, it makes such a difference in their futures."
Keep Gym in School Public Service Announcements (PSAs) featuring McAllister will run on NFL Network, in NFL games on broadcast partners and as a cross-channel spot on the Cox affiliates.
"Keep Gym in School is an outstanding program designed to give students a strong academic and physical education program at school," said Greg Bicket, senior vice-president and general manager, Cox New Orleans. "Cox is a longstanding partner in the communities and proud to champion Keep Gym in School with NFL Network and the New Orleans Saints to provide kids with a great foundation for fit futures."
During the offseason, the Saints will be hosting a training program at their practice facility for Jefferson Parish School District middle school physical education teachers, during which they will introduce a series of new football-inspired lesson plans designed to get kids excited about physical education.
Keep Gym in School was launched in conjunction with NFL PLAY 60, the league's youth health and fitness campaign, aimed at getting kids active for sixty minutes a day.
In its first year, Keep Gym in School is funding refurbishments for Physical Education programs at select schools across the country, hosting NFL minicamps to get kids active and assess their fitness levels. Students will participate in follow up testing to determine the local performers who will earn trips to a National Honors Event held during the 2009 NFL Draft week. Keep Gym in School has created a series of football-inspired lesson plans and a fitness assessment program in collaboration with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). The initiative is also incorporating the President's Challenge, a physical activity and fitness recognition program of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) and creating the "Keep Gym in School President's Challenge" program.
To expand the program nationally, Keep Gym in School will provide one additional school with a $10,000 grant to improve its physical education program. NFL Network will offer an online adoption contest open to any middle school nationwide at www.KeepGyminSchool.com. Students, parents, teachers and other community members can nominate their school for the grant online at the website.
Keep Gym in School is designed to address recent facts released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the past two decades, the rates for overweight children have doubled and today 17% of children and adolescents 2-19 years of age (over 12.5 million people) in the United States are overweight. According to the for Disease Control, only 7.9 percent of middle schools provide daily physical education or its equivalent (225 minutes per week) for the entire school year (36 weeks) for students in all grades in the school.
About Jefferson Parish School System:
About the Jefferson Parish Public School System The Jefferson Parish Public School System is the second largest district in the state of Louisiana and is nationally ranked in the top 100 for student enrollment. There are 86 schools located on the east and west banks of Jefferson Parish with a total enrollment of more than 43,000 students. Employees total more than 6,200, of which almost 3,000 are teachers. 96% of the school district's teachers are state certified and 123 teachers are nationally board certified, which is the highest in the state. Web site: www.jppss.k12.la.us
About NFL Network:
NFL Network airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis and is the only television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football. For more information, log on to www.nfl.com/nflnetwork. NFL.com is the exclusive Internet home of NFL Network.
About Play 60:
In October 2007, the NFL launched PLAY 60, a national youth health and fitness campaign focused on increasing the health and wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL's long-standing commitment to health and fitness with an impressive roster of partner organizations. PLAY 60 is also implemented locally, as part of the NFL's in-school, after-school and team-based programs. For more information, visit www.NFLRush.com/health.
About Cox Communications:
Cox Communications is a multi-service broadband communications and entertainment company with 6.2 million total residential and commercial customers. The third-largest cable television company in the United States, Cox offers an array of advanced digital video, high-speed Internet and telephony services over its own nationwide IP network. Cox Business is a full-service, facilities-based provider of communications solutions for commercial customers, providing high-speed Internet, voice and long distance services, as well as data and video transport services for small to large-sized businesses. Cox Media offers national and local cable advertising in traditional spot and new media formats, along with promotional opportunities and production services. Cox Communications wholly owns and operates the Travel Channel. More information about the services of Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com, www.coxbusiness.com, and www.coxmedia.com.
About the New Orleans Saints:
For the New Orleans Saints Community Affairs Dept., every day is game day. Kickoffs come each morning, when the club and its players put in the tireless work to make a positive impact on the people of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. This dedication to the less fortunate and to charitable causes has been a defining trait of Tom Benson's tenure as Owner. From top management and moving through the team's coaches, players and staff, the organization makes a concerted effort to be a visible and accessible to members of the community, with a hands-on approach to charitable approach toward charitable outreach. But these efforts are sparked by more than the desire to be seen - the Saints are firmly focused on making a positive, lasting impact. For more information on the Saints' Community Affairs programs, please click here.