I'd forgotten that middle school gym clothes have a big blank space for you to write your name. Looking back, that's actually kind of cool.
I'm not in any kind of school setting that much these days, but I was glad to be at Lanier Middle School earlier this week when Texans middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, khaki-clad and all smiles, talked to a gym full of hyped-up youngsters as part of the NFL's "Play 60" program, an initiative aimed at fighting childhood obesity by encouraging kids to eat nutrient-rich foods and be active for at least an hour a day.
"It's special to be able to come out here and be a spokesperson for kids making healthy choices with what they're eating, and also encouraging kids to get more active," Ryans said. "It's fun to me to come out and talk to kids about that, because there's a real, real big problem with childhood obesity now, a lot of kids sitting around playing video games all day and not going outside and getting active in their community. So it's important that we relay that message all across America to get kids active and get them playing at least 60 minutes every day."
After several minutes of nutrition-related questions and answers, (rest assured, ice cream is still the overwhelming favorite dairy product among middle schoolers), Ryans took his place among a few eager helpers and led the group in some exercises to a Miley Cyrus and friends soundtrack. The usual suspects showed face—jumping jacks, lunges, running in place, some stretches. The present adults let out a palpable groan at the mere mention of squats, but the kids were daunted by none of it and seemed energized as they headed into the rest of their day armed with a carton of chocolate milk and a pedometer.
I didn't know what a pedometer was in middle school, did you? Hopefully that means we're making progress!