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North Hall Middle welcomes Falcons linebacker
School rewarded for wellness efforts
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon celebrates after North Hall Middle School student Amy Galvan successfully threw a football into a trash can during fitness activities at the school. - photo by Tom Reed

In the midst of prepping for another playoff appearance, the Atlanta Falcons, along with the National Football League and Play 60, honored a local school for its efforts in tackling childhood obesity.

North Hall Middle School was named the 2012 NFL Play 60 Super School for Falcons’ country, earning a visit from star linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and a $10,000 grant on Tuesday.

The Play 60 program, an initiative started by the NFL in 2007, is a community-based health and wellness awareness program to encourage children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Play 60 Super Schools are those that demonstrated their commitment to youth health and wellness, as well as incorporating the NFL into their curriculum.

“I want to congratulate you guys,” said Weatherspoon while addressing the students. “I think you’re doing a great job, and I’m happy to be here.”

North Hall was also a winner in Georgia SHAPE, a state-initiated program to encourage student health, earning nearly $6,000 for heath and wellness programming or equipment.

The recognition from the NFL, Falcons and Georgia SHAPE has proved encouraging for those pushing for healthier students on the middle-school campus.

“A lot of it is just encouragement,” said Brad Brown, principal. “We’ve had a lot of students come up and say, ‘Hey, I’ve lost 5 pounds, 10 pounds, I’ve lost 22 pounds.’ You can see it in their face that they feel better about themselves and it’s just been wonderful to make a difference in the life of a kid.”

Brown said it also doesn’t hurt to have a football star visit the school.

“That just re-emphasizes making good decisions and obviously they’re going to respond to him a whole lot better than they’re going to respond to me,” he said. “He’s a class act and a good guy and I’m so glad he took time out of his day to come visit us.”

Weatherspoon presented Brown with the $10,000 check, which will go toward the wellness initiatives in the school, including the “Morning Mile Club,” which will honor students who walk or run 100 or more miles during their tenure at the school.

He stuck around to field questions from students and to lead them in Play 60 fitness activities in the gym.

The school also will receive physical education equipment for future use.

And Weatherspoon, welcomed to the school by the students chanting “Spoon,” said a healthier lifestyle starts with healthier choices including diet and exercise, something he has to do to remain successful on the field.

“Just take 60 minutes out of your day to go out and play and have some fun instead of sitting on your behind playing video games,” he said. “Always get outside when you can — sweat a little bit. With my job I can’t be lazy.”

North Hall was one of 34 schools in the nation to receive the distinction.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Brown. “We’re so excited for the school, the community and the kids, and to have Weatherspoon here has been just a blessing.

“It’s fun to be a part of, I’ll tell you that.”

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