Photo Gallery: Panthers players visit Leaphart Elementary for NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 pep rally

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Kids and teachers raced through an obstacle course, were quizzed on their fitness facts and hung out with Carolina Panthers players and Sir Purr all during a fun-filled afternoon with the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program.

Leaphart and Nursery Road elementary schools were recognized by Fuel Up to Play 60 for their initiatives that aim to keep kids active and teaching them about the importance of eating healthy. Leaphart Elementary hosted the event Tuesday, and Principal Kelly Brown and Nursery Road Elementary Principal Love Ligons each picked up a check for $5,000 in Hometown Grant funding from Fuel Up to Play 60 and the Southeastern Dairy Industry Association.

Getting the kids pumped up for a day of activities was Panthers’ mascot Sir Purr, placekicker Graham Gano and linebacker Thomas Davis along with Riley Fields, director of community relations for the Panthers.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a nationwide campaign that encourages kids to be active for an hour a day and to choose healthy snacks and drinks. Leaphart Elementary participates with programs like Workout Wednesday, during which a portion of the day is designed to get kids moving while in the classroom. Nursery Road teachers share their own tips and advice for living a healthy lifestyle on Wellness Wednesdays.

“We’ve been focusing on wellness for years,” Ligons said.

Students shared their own ideas on how they “play 60” like riding bikes, skateboards and scooters. Fields reminded them to “fuel up” properly with healthy snacks and calcium-rich milk. Several kids and teachers sported milk mustache stickers during the pep rally.

“If you put good things in your body, you will get good grades,” Davis told the students.

Lexington-Richland Five is one of 32 "Fuel Up to Play 60" Hometown Grant winners. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Lexington-Richland Five is one of 32 “Fuel Up to Play 60” Hometown Grant winners. (photo by Rachel Ham)

A few students were selected to play a Fuel Up to Play 60 Challenge game show with Davis and Gano as team leaders. Students had their knowledge of healthy facts tested, while others were chosen from the crowd for a dance-off and milk-drinking contest. Teachers got in on the fun, too, by trying to earn points for their team racing through an obstacle course.

The goal of the day was to help students realize how enjoyable staying active and eating healthy can be by showing them that people like their teachers and even professional athletes “fuel up to play 60.”

“I know you love playing video games, but it’s very important to go outside, play and enjoy the day,” Davis said.

“It’s important to get outside … every day and play 60 – and it’s fun!” Gano said.

Lexington-Richland School District Five Student Nutrition Director Todd Bedenbaugh said students will remember Tuesday’s pep rally for a long time.

“We are so proud and honored to have been selected for the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative by the Panthers,” he said . “As a school district, we’ve implemented a number of initiatives to promote nutrition and exercise, and the event today advances our efforts in a way that only a visit by the Panthers can do.”

Fuel Up to Play 60 Hometown Grants were given to one school district in each of the 32 NFL markets. Brown and Ligons said they were surprised that their schools were chosen to receive a share of the funding, but they already are planning how to use the monies to enhance physical fitness and healthy eating initiatives.

Both principals plan to purchase new playground equipment, and Leaphart students will learn about healthy snacks through 4-H lessons and Nursery Road kids will be able to enjoy playing outside in warmer weather thanks to a new canopy structure on the playground.

Categories: Lexington County