As students from 23 different LA-region schools excitedly dispersed on the field of Cal Lutheran's William Rolland Stadium, it quickly became evident that there was an activity for everyone. While some played in a friendly flag football matchup with Rams Tight End Tyler Higbee & Offensive Lineman Aaron Neary, others enjoyed inflatables, took pictures with Rams Cheerleaders, and even mimicked the dance moves of Rampage.
In partnership with the American Heart Association, the Rams hosted their fourth annual PLAY 60 Field Day as a culmination of this year's PLAY 60 Challenge, a four-week program that engaged local students in physical activity and inspired youth to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. In March, the Rams held an NFL PLAY 60 kickoff lunch at the team's corporate headquarters in Agoura Hills to welcome the teachers and school administrators participating in the program.
"It's just nice to get the kids out here, get them active and play some games, run around and go through some drills…I enjoy it just as much as they do," said Higbee. "They put smiles on my face and I know I put one on theirs. I would have enjoyed something like this when I was a kid so having this platform to give back is really special and I'm glad I can do it for them."
His teammate Aaron Neary echoed Higbee's passion for engaging the youth, but also discussed how the encouragement of outdoor recreation and physical activity needs to be emphasized to the younger generations now more than ever.
"Especially with the convenience of everything today, it's so easy to just stay put and stay complacent," said Neary. "We have some many things that can keep you indoors and not out moving around, so being able to get up, be outside and be active certainly is a step in the right direction to promote a healthy lifestyle."
As much as Higbee & Neary enjoyed connecting with attendees, it may not have usurped the excitement of participants who had the chance to engage in some football-related drills with players on their favorite hometown team.
"If there were levels from one-to-ten to rate how much fun I'm having…it would be eleven," said one student-participant. "I loved seeing the players. It's going to be on my Instagram, snapchat, and everything. I'm just so excited."
Since the program's inception in 2006, the Rams' PLAY 60 Challenge has engaged more than 135 schools and organizations and more than 31,000 students.
"This is our biggest PLAY 60 event of the year, and it's a special one," said Rams Community Affairs Representative Zach Kinkeade. "It's really a way of saying 'thank you' to the participating schools with a goal to promote health and wellness which is very important to the Rams and the NFL. We're able to bring kids out from all over the city to show them love and let them know that the Rams are here for them."
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives, dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all and empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the association funds innovative research, advocates for stronger public health policies, and shares lifesaving resources and information.
For more information about the Los Angeles Rams community outreach programs, visit www.therams.com/community.
"What we love about this program is it really focuses on finding different and active ways to play. In a time where some many kids are on their screens, we want to make sure that they're getting excited and knowing the importance of getting outside and playing. That's what this event is all about." –Anders Bollingmo – Senior Director of Development, AHA