When every player on your roster and numerous staffers from the franchise hit the community, a lot of good work can be done.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons players teamed up with the NFL and the United Way to take part in Hometown Huddle, a league-wide program designed to get NFL players into the community. The Falcons were the only NFL franchise to make their entire roster available to the cause and they hit the streets of Atlanta, putting a lot of smiles on a lot of faces.
Falcons players set out in teams all over Atlanta, many of them attending schools to work with kids during physical education classes. The kids at Rowland Elementary School in Stone Mountain knew something different was going to happen, but they had no idea until Julio Jones, Todd McClure, Ray Edwards, Stephen Nicholas, Justin Blalock, Jacquizz Rodgers and Kevin Cone walked in sporting their Falcons jerseys.
Each player worked at a station as groups of kids rotated around the gym and worked on physical health fundamentals like proper stretching, push-ups and sit-ups during the hour-long class session. The players' efforts on Tuesday tied into the NFL's Play 60 campaign, an initiative to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes each day.
Roberta Walker, the principal of Rowland Elementary, made sure to stop into the school's gym during the session to see up close how thrilled her students were.
"It was great to have the Falcons at our school and have them work on health activities and share with the boys and girls," Walker said. "They see the Falcons on television and they were very excited to see them up close and have a real life experience with them. The players are helping instill the value of physical activity and being active in the children and we're so proud to have them with us today."
In addition to donating their time, the United Way and the Falcons donated boxes and boxes of equipment to the school for use with the kids. Everything from jump ropes and basketballs, to whistles and stopwatches sat in physical education teacher and coach Lawrence White's office.
When the hour was up, the players left and the kids went to their next class, but everyone was breathing heavily. The players wouldn't admit it, but a group of elementary school kids just may have worn them out, but they didn't seem to care.
The Falcons spread out to eight other locations, as well — elementary schools, a Publix store and, for some lucky fans, a special treat at Books for Africa. The UnitedHealthcare Rookie Club surprised Rise Up Atlanta volunteers at Books for Africa and worked alongside the fan volunteers, packing boxes full of books heading to Africa.
Rise Up Atlanta is a citywide movement that encourages the city of Atlanta to join the Falcons in making Atlanta better one day, one hour and one volunteer at a time. Join the thousands of volunteers by clicking here for more information.