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Falcons focused on youth fitness
Vance Walker, of the Atlanta Falcons, huddles a group of youths together for a cheer at the Boys and Girls Club of Hall County Wednesday afternoon during a Falcons football camp for kids event in the Club’s gymnasium. The event promotes year round activities for kids to stay healthy and fit. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times
Dozens of young girls and boys had a special experience, as several Atlanta Falcons football players participated in the Gatorade Junior Training Camp at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County at Positive Place on Wednesday in Gainesville.

The free football camp, geared toward children in third through sixth grade, focused on promoting proper football technique as well as general physical activity and proper hydration.

The program is important to the Falcons players, as it gives them a chance to give back to a community that has done so much to support them.

“It means a lot,” said Falcons safety William Moore. “We’re put in a position to help change lives. Every time we’re given the opportunity to come out and do something like this, I’m willing.”

The positive effect that such an experience can have on children is a big part of what inspires Moore to participate so readily.

“They’ll never forget it,” he said. “I really (enjoy this).”

As an adolescent psychology major in college, Moore understands the impact exposure to professional athlete can have on young people.

“This is one of my enjoyments. If I wasn’t playing football, (helping kids) is what I would be doing,” he said.

Lineman Vance Walker echoed his teammate.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I feel like with what we’re doing right now, which is basically training up before our season gets underway, we have a lot of free time and I mean, that should be (my) and everyone else’s main priority, giving back to the kids.

“We can give so little, but it means so much to them. Just to see a kid and be able to make them smile and make their day (makes it worth it).”

Joe Ethier, the chief professional officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, said he was very grateful to the Falcons organization for their enthusiastic participation in events in Hall County.

“(They’ve) been a long-time partner and (we) are just so grateful for their help and all the different resources that they have to make a significant investment in (the children) of Hall County,” Ethier said.

Ethier sees first-hand the effects that these types of events have on the children he works with every day.

“They really look forward to this,” he said. “It gives them exposure to professional athletes on a personal level and shows them that success is something that they can achieve.”

Jashad, a Club member, was all smiles after the event was over.

“(It was) good,” he said. “I liked it.”

Jashad’s fellow Club member, Shyla, said that getting to participate with the Falcons players was “pretty cool.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hall County recently received an award at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 104th National Conference held in New York.

For the program entitled “Club Fit,” the organization was awarded the Honor Award for Program Excellence in Sports, Fitness and Recreation. The award is presented to a Club that conducts an outstanding program that helps young people become physically fit, make positive use of leisure time, develop social and stress management skills and appreciate the environment.
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