With the goal of confronting and eventually eliminating childhood obesity, Falcons players and cheerleaders, members of the military and more than 2,300 Atlanta area kids got together to break the Guinness World Record for largest virtual physical education class Tuesday morning
ATLANTA — Players, cheerleaders, members of the military and Atlanta area schoolchildren came together en mass Tuesday morning at the Georgia Dome with the same focus and resolve demonstrated all year long by the NFL team co-sponsoring the event.
More than 2,300 area kids were there set a new Guinness World Record for largest virtual physical education class, and the official number recorded by Guinness is 2,288, taking into account kids who didn't complete the workout.
Stephanie Blank, a chair member of the Foundation Board of Trustees for Children's Health Care of Atlanta as well as an active member of the Falcons Youth Foundation and wife of Falcons owner Arthur Blank, has witnessed the growing problem with childhood obesity first-hand.
"The Atlanta Falcons are committed to making sure children in Atlanta and all over the country get excited about exercise," Stephanie Blank said. "Our message is that it's cool to exercise, it's good for you, it's fun. I think, over time, that people get the message that this is what we should be doing."
The event kicked off at 10 a.m. as the participants took over the Georgia Dome field and began their workout, keeping the beat to the music and an exercise instructor broadcast on the Dome's mammoth video boards. For a half hour, participants at the Dome — as well as children in classrooms throughout the Georgia and the U.S. watching via the live webcast — exercised at the same time.
At 11:25 a.m., it was official. Adjudicators from the Guinness Book of World Records certified the new record. The previous record was set by the Washington Redskins earlier this year with 600 children participating.
"It was fun to see the kids smiling, and it's a good thing to teach the kids that working out can be fun and it makes you feel better as a person," linebacker Stephen Nicholas said. "It was a good experience."
The Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, along with Falcons players, cheerleaders, and team executives, partnered with Coca-Cola (Dasani), Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, HOPSports Training Systems, Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA), and the Georgia Dome to attempt the record.
"We are excited about the opportunity to continue to spread awareness and emphasize the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition for our young people," Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay said prior to the event. "We recognize that our players and cheerleaders have significant influence in changing behaviors that lead to childhood obesity, and we look forward to continuing our fight of moving kids from sedentary lifestyles to active ones."
The Falcons First Down for Fitness Program, in its fourth year, is a three-month program designed to challenge third through seventh grade students throughout the state of Georgia to participate in fitness activities, eat healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle.
The program incorporates components of the NFL's Play 60 program, the American Heart Association, and the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association's (SUDIA) Fuel Up to Play 60 nutrition program. Students must participate in physical fitness activities at least 60 minutes, five days a week and maintain healthy eating habits.