Steelers helping to keep kids active

What happens when you get Steelers players and kids together for fun and games in the gym, crafts and of course, snacks?

Nothing but complete and total excitement.

That was the case on Wednesday afternoon as the Steelers hosted the United Way Hometown Huddle at the Sarah Heinz House. The Hometown Huddle is a part of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s initiative that brings adults who are influential in the lives of kids together with them to stress the importance of making the right decisions for a healthy lifestyle, from exercise to diet.

“It's really important to be active,” said rookie Zach Gentry. “I remember growing up, in my childhood there wasn’t a second that I wasn’t outside playing with my brother, playing sports. I feel like that really helped shape my path to playing in the NFL. I think it’s really important. It’s good to promote it.”

Steelers players took part in the United Way Hometown Huddle at Sara Heinz House

The event was part of the NFL’s goal to have 100 Million Minutes of volunteerism and community activism this year as the league celebrates its 100th season.

“I really enjoy doing these kinds of things,” said rookie Ulysees Gilbert. “It gives me the opportunity to do something outside of my job. It’s an opportunity to make others happy and myself happy. Sometimes you get too lost in life and too fast paced and you forget about the little things. It’s good to step back and help others.

“Plus it’s good to get kids active. This type of life we live now, everything is phone, computer and television. It’s good to get kids active and doing things. When I was growing up that is all I wanted to do, be outside. They have a lot of fun and it reminds them to be outside with their friends being active. I had some of my best memories as a kid being outside with my friends. I am happy I get to do it with them.”

Players took kids through a ‘Training Camp,’ which went from warmups to running them through an obstacle course.

It was then off to the craft room where the design of the day was a football-themed photo frame.

With plenty of energy to expend, the kids then worked with the players on team building activities where they could work through things together.

“Having the players here with us today from the Steelers takes this event to the next level,” said Wendy Koch, director of United Way Volunteer programs. “It gives the children a chance to look up to role models, see these men who come up, give their own time to play, interact and show them how they can strive to be anything they want in this day and age.”

And seriously, what do you need when you are finished with all of that? Snacks that were on the healthy side as the kids made and enjoyed fruit and marshmallow kabobs.

“I like being around kids,” said Gentry. “My mom is a kindergarten teacher. I have always grown up around kids. I like to be there and be a mentor for them.”

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