All fueled up: Students enjoy trip to Ford Field as part of NFL, Dairy Council program

ESCANABA – A half-dozen local students involved in a program that promotes healthy eating and exercise now have several new athletic drills and information to share with their classmates following a trip to Detroit’s Ford Field on Tuesday.

Six students from the Escanaba Upper Elementary School made the trip to Detroit as part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, founded by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This year marks the fourth year of the school’s participation in the program, which serves as an in-school nutrition and physical activity program to encourage youth to lead healthier lives.

Escanaba was selected as one of approximately 30 schools in the state to travel to Ford Field to participate in the Rally for School Health held Tuesday, made possible through a grant application process.

“We got picked through the grant process, so they paid for us to drive six kids down there and three adults,” explained EUE Principal Steve Martin, who noted of all participating schools, Escanaba traveled the furthest.

Accompanying the students were Martin, OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group dietician Linda Klope, and fourth-grade teacher and EUE Fuel Up to Play 60 advisor Carl Brunngraeber.

The students departed for Detroit Monday, stayed overnight at the Hilton next to Ford Field and participated in a full slate of activities Tuesday morning and afternoon as part of the rally, which served as the Fuel Up to Play 60 kick-off event. While there, they learned how to make the Fuel Up program even better at the EUE and even got to run around on the field.

“They got to run down the tunnel like the players do and they announced them over the loud speaker,” said Martin. “They ran out with (former Lions wide receiver) Herman Moore, and (former Lions placekicker) Jason Hanson came out with another group.”

Students were divided into groups who ran through various exercises and drills throughout the day. Lunch was prepared so students got to try a variety of foods and were required to try one new food each. They ended their day at Ford Field by getting their photo taken with Moore, Hanson, and the Lions mascot, Roary.

According to Martin, these six students will now serve as the leadership team for the Fuel Up to Play 60 program at the EUE and will be the driving force in organizing all of the program’s future events.

“We’ll do a kickoff activity in October,” said Martin. “We’ve discussed somehow bringing the drills that they learned from Herman Moore and Jason Hanson and teaching them to all the kids and having them do that for a little exercise throughout the day. That’s the whole idea – sort of being conscious about what you’re eating, but then at the same time … actually getting a chance to exercise every day and trying to work that into your day.”

Other upcoming activities include returning favorites such as fruit taste tests for kids and a milk mustache booth.

In November, the rockstar nutritionist Jump with Jill will also come to Escanaba for a presentation, a prize awarded to the EUE during their time in Detroit.

Lions fan Blake Reel was one of the Escanaba students who participated in Rally for School Health in Detroit and is a member of the EUE’s Fuel Up to Play 60 leadership team.

“It was a long trip, that’s for sure,” he said of the trip to Ford Field. Reel noted his favorite part of the day was going onto the field, but what was one of the biggest things he learned?

“I learned not to mess with Herman Moore,” he joked.

Though EUE student Glykeria Economopoulos is a Green Bay Packers fan, she still enjoyed her Ford Field experience.

“I really liked getting to go through the dome and getting to be on the field with the Lions,” she said.

Martin thanked Klope for all her work with the program and said the students had a positive experience.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids and they did a great job of representing our school and our community up here,” he said.