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NFL, middle school team up for fitness program

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 9:59 p.m.

The NFL and National Dairy Council are challenging students at Norwin Middle School to maintain a healthy lifestyle by committing to nutritious foods and physical activities.

The school is the first in Norwin to enroll in the Fuel Up and Play 60 program, which promotes healthy eating habits and asks students to commit at least one hour of each day to physical activities.

According to the Fuel Up to Play 60 website, approximately 73,000 schools are enrolled in the program, which reaches 38 million students.

The club, which is run by a group of 25 middle school students, along with health and physical-education teachers Cris Ritenour and Vicki Potter, offers several activities throughout the week to encourage healthy eating and maintain an active lifestyle for the entire student body.

“The whole purpose is to get nutritional and physical activities for our students every day,” Ritenour said. “Our team of students basically serves as advocates for nutrition and exercise, tell us what they want, and we try to make it possible.”

Potter said the district always has had a faculty-run wellness committee, but the Fuel Up to Play 60 club is the students' first opportunity to offer their input on such programs.

“It really gives the kids a voice,” Potter said.

“Since it's something they choose to do, not something they're being told to do, they like it more.”

The club sponsors games for students during the school's daily 25-minute activity period, such as aerobics, dancing and kickball and pushes children to exercise and remain active at home, Ritenour said.

The national Fuel Up to Play 60 organization offers grants and rewards to local clubs that show students maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Ritenour said. Some of the prizes include tickets to NFL games, autographed footballs and team apparel, she said.

Last year, Fuel Up to Play 60 gave Norwin Middle School a grant to install a climbing wall in its gymnasium, Ritenour said.

“Our students love football, and the NFL's involvement really helps motivate kids to stay active,” Ritenour said. “They really love their Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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