Being active and leading a healthy lifestyle are no doubt key components for professional athletes. But those same components also play a key role for today's youth, and Steelers' players shared that message on Tuesday in a fun way.
Cameron Heyward, the Steelers' United Way spokesman, and the team's rookies shared that lesson at the 18th Annual NFL/United Way Hometown Huddle. The event was a part of a league-wide day of service with the United Way, that ties in the NFL's Play60 program that encourages kids to play 60 minutes a day.
The Steelers rookies and Cameron Heyward took part in the 17th annual NFL/United Way Hometown Huddle, conducting a PLAY60 clinic for students at Westinghouse Academy.
"It's fun to be out here and encourage kids to exercise for 60 minutes," said Heyward, who didn't shy away from some pushup challenges himself. "It's a great time. United Way has always worked inside of our community, but this is a great way for us to work with the kids. We all started somewhere, we were in their shoes at one time. It's a nice thing to give back. I hope they take it to heart."
The players surprised a group of students at Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy, and then took them through a series of drills that ranged from catching passes to jump rope and everything in between.
"It's very important," said Artie Burns. "Being healthy is a great part of life. Being able to teach them the right way, the right exercises to be able to keep their healthy motor going, is really valuable. They were chanting for us when we first came in. They came out here with some intensity."
The intensity and energy was definitely high as the kids competed against each other in five different stations, with the players encouraging them every step of the way.
"It's always a plus," said Demarcus Ayers. "We went through the same phase to get to the point we are. To come back and teach them the right exercises, the way to exercise throughout the day, and how to take care of your body. It's always good to show the kids we can come back and help them do it. I am excited to be a part of it."
The Hometown Huddle also was a part of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania's fitUnited initiative that brings adults who are influential in the lives of kids together to stress the importance of making the right decisions for a healthy lifestyle.
"The kids here were selected because they have really great attendance, they are really into school, which is something you don't see very much," said Katie Harbison, Corporate Relations Manager at United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. "We try to do a lot of attendance challenges and staying healthy, but it's not always possible. For these kids to work hard in school and come out and learn easy ways they can stay active, the kids appreciate it and the school appreciates it.
"It was fun to see the kid's faces when they were surprised, and it's fun to see the players get excited and be interactive. They are getting them motivated not just to stay healthy, but about life and school in general."