`Chicago Bears long snapper Patrick Scales recently wound up spending his one day off a week hiking footballs – only this time, into the waiting hands of students at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie.
“This is what I do every Sunday,” Scales told the group of kids gathered around him to participate in the event, part of the NFL’s “Play 60,” a youth health and fitness campaign.
According to the Bears, “‘Play 60′ focuses on making the next generation of kids the most active and healthy by encouraging them to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.”
“Play 60″ at Bessie Rhodes also included “Read 20,” which encourages children to read for 20 minutes a day. That message was delivered by author and former NFL player Tim Green, who spoke inside the school auditorium.
Bessie Rhodes was first asked whether it wanted to participate in “Play 60/Read 20″ through an independent bookstore in Naperville, said school library media specialist Tracy Hubbard. Adding the reading component to the program was especially important, she said.
“Not every kid is convinced that reading is the best thing for them,” Hubbard said. “Some of those kids might be more oriented toward sports.”
Bessie Rhodes began its special day with Scales overseeing a long snapping station while school faculty members engaged students in football-related physical activities at other stations.
Scales said whenever he and other players attend “Play 60″ events, students respond well.
“They love it,” he said. “They look up to any professional athlete, and they see us on TV and they think it’s really great. It’s fun to put smiles on their faces.”
The long snapper said he volunteers for the events because he wants to see students “get a better grasp on how they can help themselves physically as well as nutritionally.”
Chicago Bear, author visit Skokie to get kids moving and reading
Chicago Bears long snapper Patrick Scales and author and former NFL player Tim Green recently visited the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie to promote physical fitness and reading.
But he said he also likes the idea of adding the importance of reading to the message.
“Hopefully, they’ll realize their mind is a very powerful tool, and reading is a great way to sharpen that tool and make them a better person,” he said.
Green said he wrote more than a dozen books for adults before beginning a series of novels for young readers set in the world of sports. He said he approached the NFL and some football teams about adding a reading component to “Play 60.”
“I love writing books for kids,” he told the students. “I learned that kids who read 20 minutes a day get smarter. I call reading weightlifting for your brain.”
Green said just as no one would dream of trying to make it to the NFL without lifting weights, the same should apply to reading.
“All it takes to become a reader and understand that books can be awesome is one book,” Green said. “One. But it’s got to be the right book.”
At Bessie Rhodes, he and Scales read three chapters from his latest work for kids, a novel called “Left Out.” It tells the story of a deaf child who has always wanted to be like everybody else but has faced obstacles all of his life.
The Bessie Rhodes students also each received a free copy of the book.
Hubbard said the day’s event was about imparting to students that everyone needs reading and exercise in their lives.
“Reading is fun. Exercise is fun,” she said. “Whether you’re an NFL player or whether you’re going to be a CEO of a bank, all of these things will help you have a much richer life.”
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NFL Chicago Bears Patrick Scales