CUMMING, Ga. – South Forsyth High School senior Chris DeOliveira had Atlanta Falcons football players sign his helmet when he wasn’t running through obstacles, catching and throwing a football and doing a touchdown dance.
“I threw a football in the distance, jogged and I went through obstacle courses,” DeOliveira said.
DeOliveira and dozens of special education students in the Forsyth County School System were part of this year’s Atlanta Falcons Play 60 program.
For Atlanta Falcons rookie James Rodgers, seeing the smiles on the students’ faces is what it’s all about.
“It’s about giving back,” Rodgers said, while interacting with special needs students at the South Forsyth High School football field, Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Rodgers and 13 Atlanta Falcons Rookie Club players were on hand, enthusiastically and patiently interacting with students in all five Forsyth County high schools.
Amy Leggett, a special education teacher at North Forsyth High, brought 21 students including a group of special cheerleaders, who were having a great time.
“It’s a great opportunity to socialize and have a good time together,” Leggett said. “There’s an active component, friendship and rooting each other on. They are building teamwork.”
The program is part of an Atlanta Falcons and UnitedHealthcare of Georgia partnership to teach children to spend at least an hour a day actively playing outdoors through the National Football League’s Play 60 program.
“It’s an effort to get kids physically active. We do this program throughout the state of Georgia throughout the year,” said Chris Millman, community relations and youth program manager for the Atlanta Falcons.
There were also two Labrador retrievers from Happy Tails, a pet therapy organization. They were very popular with some of the students.
Lambert High special education teacher Janae Rose said her 12 students in two classes were excited about their overall experience.
“They get to participate and be active like everyone else,” Rose said. “They are loving every minute of it.”