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NFL player encourages TCHS students to eat healthy, exercise

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Leslie Moore

lmoore@cknj.com

Taylor County High School has received a $3,500 Fuel Up to Play 60 grant to encourage students to eat healthy and get 60 minutes of exercise per day most days of the week.

Representatives from the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, co-sponsors of the grant, visited TCHS last Friday to talk with students about the importance of eating healthy and being active.

"This is an awesome program because it gives kids knowledge on why it's important to eat healthy and get that 60 minutes of physical activity," former NFL and University of Kentucky running back Artose Pinner said.

A portion of the grant funds has been used to purchase two Vitamix blenders.

The blenders were used to prepare fruit smoothies that were offered to students after lunch.

Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Deana Shewmaker said students in her classes will use the blenders to prepare smoothies and sell them to TCHS students in the afternoons. Shewmaker said any profits made from the sale of the smoothies will go back into the classes to pay for supplies.

"We are encouraging students to take action for a healthier environment," Kathy Belcher, manager of school programs for the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association Inc., said.

"Fueling up on all those foods that most students are not getting enough of - dairy, fruits and veggies and whole grains - will give them more energy to do well in school and ensure that they grow into healthy adults."

Although NFL players like Pinner bring an element of celebrity into the Fuel Up to Play 60 Program, Pinner said it is dairy farmers who deserve the credit.

American Dairy Association of Kentucky President Jeff Deener said the famous "Got Milk" commercials and similar ad campaigns along with grants and scholarships are paid for by dairy farmers.

"Milk and dairy are just really good, wholesome products essential for healthy growth and development," Deener said.

Pinner said traveling to schools around the country and getting to talk one-on-one with students has been a great experience.

"Students not receiving the proper nutrients and getting enough physical activity is what has led to childhood obesity," Pinner said.

"But if we educate the students and prepare them to make their own health conscious decisions, we can end this."