Ravens visit Spring Garden Elementary to promote NFL Play 60

Spring Garden Elementary School students knew they had an assembly Tuesday morning promoting Project ACES (Active Children Excel in School) as part of the NFL's Play 60 campaign.

But they had no idea who would be joining them until Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson, safety Michael Huff, and linebacker Jameel McClain ran into the gymnasium high-fiving students as they roared with excitement.

Dickson, Huff and McClain were joined by Ravens cheerleaders and the team mascot Poe Tuesday at the Hampstead elementary school to promote the NFL's Play 60 campaign.

Carroll County Public Schools kicked off Project ACES Sept. 30 as part of the NFL's Play 60 campaign, which encourages elementary students to engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Dickson, Huff, and McClain spoke to the students about staying active, eating well, and taking a break from video games before fielding student questions and participating in a relay race which involved jumping jacks, jumping rope, and agility drills.

"This day and age, it's all about technology," Dickson said. "Everybody wants to watch TV, want to be on the video games and you become a couch potato."

Fourth grader Matthew Wright, who participated in the relay race, said "Today is like winning the lottery, only for kids."

Spring Garden principal Deborah Bunker said Project ACES is "going wonderfully well" at Spring Garden this year.

"Every year we get better and better participation from kids," she said.

Bunker said even though students did not know Ravens players were going to partake in the assembly, they were still excited to celebrate Project ACES.

Adding some players from the Ravens just added to the students' excitement for the program.

"I think it means a lot to them (to hear from players) during this time because we're really putting an emphasis on the healthy eating and exercise," Bunker said.

Dickson said the opportunity to speak to children gives a great perspective on life and provides an opportunity to help children make the right decisions.

"These events are definitely one of my favorites, just to talk to some of the young kids," he said.

Spring Garden fifth-grader Terrell Bowman said meeting Dickson and his teammates was his "best experience."

"I was excited because I've never met any of the Ravens players before," Bowman said.

Carroll students are in their second week of Project ACES, which ends Friday.

Students are asked to track their physical activity through a journal as part of the program and students who log 60 minutes for each day of the challenge will be entered in a raffle to win various prizes.

Three winners will be invited to the Ravens game Thanksgiving Day, where they will be recognized on field before the game. Five additional students will be chosen to attend a Ravens Play 60 reward luncheon in the spring along with other winning students from Baltimore-area schools.

Staff members are also encouraged to participate with the school notching the highest overall participation receiving a financial grant from the Ravens.

Schools with 80 to 100 percent of students participating will receive $200 and schools with 50 to 79 percent participation will receive $100 for their physical education classes.

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