Draft Day St. Louis Brings Families Back to the Forefront

April 21, 2009

Draft Day St. Louis Brings Families Back to the Forefront
Draft Day St. Louis Brings Families Back to the Forefront

Before the ink on Rams linebacker Chris Draft’s contract was dry, he had already claimed the city as his own. Since then, Draft has been able to make a huge impact on the Gateway to the West through a variety of initiatives, but none have been bigger than the Chris Draft Family Foundation’s signature event, Draft Family Fitness Day.
Draft Family Fitness Day, or “Draft Day®” for short, is more than a football camp. It’s a wellness camp that brings the family back into focus. Draft realizes that real change starts with the family, so it was important to him to bring that concept to his new home in the Midwest.

“The involvement of my parents to really help direct me was huge,” Draft said. “So we want to be able to build the youth up, but at the same time embrace the parents and say that it takes family. It takes the whole family for everyone to be successful.”

This year’s Draft Day is set to take place Saturday, May 9 at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club in St. Louis. Participating youth, dubbed “Draft’s Picks,” have been hand-selected from across the St. Louis area to be ambassadors to the camp. Their charge is to not only have fun, but to learn, take that knowledge and share it with their communities, making Draft Day® more than just a one-day event.

“That one day is really just a chance to be educated,” Draft said. “By bringing ambassadors, what we do is really encourage them to take the education from that day, continue to spread it and lead for all the days afterwards.”
Along with the community ambassadors, this year’s Draft Family Fitness Day will feature ambassadors from the asthma community as well. The Chris Draft Family Foundation will kick off Asthma Awareness Month by hosting a large group of campers affected by asthma, with the help of Missouri Department of Health Asthma Team Program Coordinator Peggy Geddy.

Another element to this year’s camp will be the presence of the PTA. Draft has signed on as the national spokesman for the national PTA, an organization striving to involve parents in the educational lives of their children. The Draft Family Fitness Day centers on empowering families, so the partnership was a natural fit.

“We’re saying that being that best role model, the most important role model in their kids’ lives, if they can change, their kids can definitely change,” Draft said. “That doesn’t go in reverse. If the youth change, that doesn’t necessarily mean the parents are going to change. By having them both there together, we’re trying to get the highest probability of change.”

Draft Family Fitness Day imparts education by splitting the youth and parents into sessions that focus on similar topics, but deliver the information in different ways. For the campers, there’s the Balanced Bodies station, teaching them the importance of healthy eating. At the same time, the parents are taking part in Chef Talk, where Chef Eulyan Welch teaches them how to create healthy meals easily and quickly.

Both the youth and parents will take part in Fitness Blitz, which uses HOPSports multimedia technology to deliver indoor agility drills, teaching them the importance of exercise. Chris Draft and other NFL players will also run the campers through outdoor football and agility drills, ensuring they get plenty of exercise.

There are also sessions for both the youth and parents talking about the importance of smart spending. The Financial Literacy session for the parents will be lead by Marvin Mitchell of Edward Jones and Sebrina Colvin of St. Louis Community College and will emphasize proper financial planning. Money Smart for the youth campers will be sponsored by National City, now a part of PNC, and will introduce the importance of setting financial goals.

The youth groups will be divided by gender for the Girl Talk and Just Us Guys sessions, where they will discuss how to be the best men and women they can be with an emphasis on self-esteem and character. The Girl Talk session will be facilitated by a former St. Louis Rams Cheerleader and the SLU Women’s Basketball Team. The Just Us Guys session will be led by Eliel Swinton, an experienced youth mentor and coach, and will feature Draft and Rams players.

Pellom McDaniels, assistant professor of History, American Studies and Gender Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and former Kansas City Chief, will lead the youth in the Goal Setting session. The campers will discuss setting their goals high and the impact every choice they make has on their life and the lives of others.

Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, offensive line coach Art Valero and Tony Draft, Chris’s father, will join Shimmy Gray-Miller, SLU Women’s Basketball coach, to talk with the parents about coaching their kids to balance extra-curricular activities with academics in the Coaches and Parents Roundtable. Local health professionals will be on hand for the Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies Roundtable to answer parents’ health-related questions and educate them about local healthcare options.

“People ask me, how have you gotten to this point? What does it take to be an NFL player? What did you do to become this NFL player?” Draft said. “Basically, all the sessions and the format of the camp is a lot of the things that I’ve done. From having my own dance group in high school, we had a dance group that was a big part of my life. Sports were always also a big part, not just football, but all sports. We want families to have a goal that they want to achieve, but also look forward and recognize that it needs to be done the right way.”