The Los Angeles Rams hosted an NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp for approximately 250 Hispanic students from LA area schools to teach life skills through the game of football, emphasizing the importance of physical activity and nutrition, and reinforcing the values of good character in athletics and life.
In partnership with the NFL and Hall of Fame Tackle Anthony Muñoz, the Los Angeles Rams hosted an NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp for approximately 250 Hispanic students with little to no football experience from Kipp Vida Preparatory Academy, Menlo Elementary School and St. Cecilia Catholic School on Tuesday, September 10. The mission of the NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp is to make a positive impact on youth by teaching life skills through the game of football, emphasizing the importance of physical activity and nutrition, and reinforcing the values of good character in athletics and life.
As students arrived at the field, they were greeted by Rams Cheerleaders and Rampage, who provided each with Character Camp t-shirts. With football-related drills set up on a recreational turf field adjacent to the LA Memorial Coliseum, the youth were eager to begin a morning of character building and physical activity. National Director of NFL Play 60 Character Camp, Andy Olds, opened the event with remarks about good character and teamwork before dividing the students into groups. Each station provided opportunities to learn different football drills and the values of good character such as respect, responsibility and fairness from the PLAY 60 volunteer coaches.
"I was able to bring about 85 of my students from school out in the fresh air to spend time with each other, learn about teamwork and build character which is very similar to what we try to we do at school," said Kipp Vida Preparatory Principal, Aisha Bonner. "The Character Camp provided the opportunity to mix and mingle with children from other schools and other areas, learn how important it is to acknowledge our differences in each other, but then remember all of the things we have in common such as the ways we can respect each other, have fun together and make sure everyone is safe."
After a few rotations through each station, the youth had two special visitors arrive. The students gathered around Coach Olds as he formally introduced Rams Defensive Tackle SEBASTIAN JOSEPH-DAY and Wide Receiver MIKE THOMAS.
Joseph-Day and Thomas were quarterbacks for the day during a 7-on-7 flag football scrimmage. Joseph-Day would huddle his offense, draw up a play and send receivers deep into the endzone for a touchdown, while Thomas also provided receiving tips to the youth.
"For me to come and be that positive role model for them is just an honor," said Joseph-Day. "It's great interacting with the kids and watching them experience such great joy playing the game of football while teaching them about the game, character, and life lessons which will help them grow. It's awesome to see these kids learn the game that I grew up loving and watching them fall in love with it just like I did when I was their age. I see myself in them, it's awesome."
During the event, Thomas was reflective about how opportunities like this would have positively impacted him growing up. Raised in Chicago, Illinois he wishes he would have had the opportunity the students had to learn the game from NFL players and the importance of being active at a young age.
"When I was younger, I wish I would have had NFL players come to my city to help promote being active for 60 minutes every day," said Thomas.
To conclude the event, students nominated by their teachers and volunteer coaches received two tickets to the Rams home opener on Sunday, September 15 against the New Orleans Saints for an NFC Championship rematch.
"It's a great community and today we had Rams cheerleaders, Rampage, and two pros Mike Thomas and Sebastian Joseph-Day who came out and were fantastic," said Olds. "This is a great way to end our summer."
The NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps are part of the NFL's year-round Hispanic outreach initiative, focused on offering youth opportunities to play and experience football. Since the inception of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps in 2012, more than 90 camps have taken place, impacting more than 30,000 youth across the country.