WASHINGTON— Former NFL star LaVar Arrington headlined the Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassador summit on Thursday, hosting a one-hour breakout session focused on leadership advice, dealing with difficult situations and professional media training.
Arrington introduced himself and told “his story,” including where he grew up, how he got into sports and football, some highlights from his NFL experience and what he is doing now. He asked several interactive questions about the FUTP60 program to four students in a radio-style interview.
Speaking of his time in high school, Arrington said, “That’s probably one of my singular regrets: I didn’t try hardest; I tried hard. I did a lot of community work and things outside the norm, which kept me grounded.”
The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker said it was hard to leave Washington, which drafted him 2nd overall, but that during his time as a New York Giant, the team treated him “really nice.”
“It broke my heart to have to go play for another team,” he admitted. “I love the Redskins.”
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched in October 2009 by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that encourages students to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods, including low-fat and fat-free dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt), fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
Fuel Up to Play 60 combines the excitement of the NFL with challenges, prizes and rewards that inspire kids to get active and eat right. The program is designed to help youth develop lifelong healthy eating and daily physical activity habits. It helps inspire schools and communities to get healthy, get active and make a difference.
Arrington touched on the importance of physical activity and healthy eating during his remarks to the student ambassadors in attendance, joking around with them during his portion of the program.
“None of it matters unless you are impacting someone else,” he told them.
Arrington also spoke to the crowd about dealing with and implementing change as well as working through challenges and holding onto visionary ideals.
The goals of the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative speak to a worthy cause. Among the supporting statistics are: One-third of American children are overweight or obese. It’s possible that today’s children could become the first American generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Overall, only 2 percent of school-aged children consume the recommended daily number of servings from all major food groups.
“Enjoy the journey, because you only get this moment once,” Arrington said. “Hopefully you guys took something away from it and are better for it.”
By Khalil Garriott, photos and video also by Khalil Garriott