ORANGE PARK – About 100 students at Lakeside Elementary braved 95-degree heat to receive a donation of more than 100 balls for the school’s winning entry promoting the Play 60 program.
Children then tore into the packaging and threw the tennis balls, footballs, basketballs, baseballs and soccer balls in the air. They played with Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole and team mascot, Jaxson de Ville.
The Play 60 initiative, supported by the American Heart Association and the National Football League, encourages kids to play at least an hour a day.
Lakeside physical education teacher Kim Tracanna-Breault said she was proud of Lakeside’s involvement and its seven years in the program.
“My kids made the awesome video,” Tracanna-Breault said. “They really believe in playing for 60 minutes and improving their health.”
In April, the Jaguars sponsored “Bring a Ball to the Ball” at the First Coast Heart and Stroke Ball, where the equipment was donated. American Heart Association’s Youth Marketing Director Jacqueline Easterling, who leads efforts in three counties, said the goal was to teach students about heart health and physical activity.
“It encourages students to get at least 60 minutes of vigorous activity or exercise every day,” she said.
Fifth-graders Derek Rekos and Calvin Johnson, who were part of the team that made the video, called the visit from the Jaguars an honor. The students’ video explained the benefits of exercise in relation to the heart, fat and fun.
“The video was fun and very nice to create,” Rekos said.
“It’s very special and kind of insane,” Johnson added. “A lot of these people are well-known and we’re a small school here in Orange Park.”
In the sweltering heat, Cole was quickly swarmed by the Lakeside students and played basketball. He said there was no replacement for going outdoors.
“It’s about the kids going outside and having as much fun as they need,” Cole said. “I don’t mind iPads and stuff, but it’s always fun to go outside, be active and burn some fat.”
On his way out, Cole touted the Jaguars to improve on their 5-11 outing last year.
“Of course, we’re going to try and go undefeated like everybody else wants to,” Cole said. “That’s all there is about that.”