Youth and Parent Ambassadors Fill Atlanta YET for Draft Day®

June 20, 2009

Youth and Parent Ambassadors Fill Atlanta YET for Draft Day®
Youth and Parent Ambassadors Fill Atlanta YET for Draft Day®
Youth and Parent Ambassadors Fill Atlanta YET for Draft Day®

Even though he now plays for the St. Louis Rams, linebacker Chris Draft continues to  give back to the cities that have given so much to him. One of those cities, Atlanta, received a gift from Draft on Saturday, June 20, when he held his inspirational Draft Family Fitness Day camp at the Atlanta NFL Youth Education Town Boys and Girls Club.

“The majority of our youth came from the Metro Atlanta Boys and Girls Clubs, situated all over Atlanta, giving us a chance to bring a lot of different communities together through Draft Day®,” Draft said. “That’s the goal of Draft Day®, is to bring together representatives from different communities."

Draft Family Fitness Day, or Draft Day® for short, is more than just a fun, one-day camp. It’s a camp with a mission, and that mission is to inspire as many families as possible to lead healthier, and ultimately happier, lifestyles.

“It was exciting,” Draft said. “It was a great time, and I’m very confident that all of our Draft’s Picks are going to go back to their community and make that community better by spreading the Get Checked and Get Fit™ message that small changes can make a big difference.”

Family is the key word in the title of Draft Family Fitness Day. It’s not just a wellness camp for youth, but for their parents as well. Draft firmly believes in including parents in the fitness camp as a way of reinforcing all the important information their children receive during the day.

“Bringing the families together is essential to really having a chance to learn,” Draft said. “That’s why it’s so important that these families are brought in. What we want to be able to do is, we want our youth to get a message that is backed up by the parents and supported by the community.”

Draft Family Fitness Day does not just focus on the physical side of wellness. As a family fitness camp, there are education sessions to help promote a healthy mind as well as a healthy body, through financial literacy classes, cooking sessions, as well as sessions focused on character-building for the youth and their parents.

“I worked the character department, or Just Us Guys segment (which features a discussion among the male youth about being the best man they can be),” said Eliel Swinton, a youth mentor and college teammate of Draft’s. “For me, it’s very important to teach these young men how to be men, so as future generations of men in America are raised, we have a group of ambassadors, as Chris likes to call them, raising these men to understand virtues and character traits that will make them successful.”

There is a character-building session for the girls as well, led by a group of current and former Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders. Draft didn’t forget about the parents, either. In a session called the Parents and Coaches Roundtable, parents are able to discuss how to find the best balance between academics and athletics for their children, by speaking with NFL players and coaches like former Falcon Billy “White Shoes” Johnson and Draft’s longest-tenured coach, his father, Tony Draft.

“I think it was a wonderful day, a successful day,” Johnson said. “I think the parents and the children got it from all angles. It was nothing but encouraging, supportive, but more importantly, a lot of information was given out. I think the kids see that, but they also have people who can support that.”

There’s plenty of physical activity as well for both the campers and their parents. The campers were able to enjoy the Take It Outside session, where they were run through football  and agilitydrills led by former NFL player Kadar Hamilton.

Both groups were also treated to a special indoor Fitness Blitz that utilizes HOPSports technology. HOPSports utilizes DVR technology to create a unique and fun workout for both the youth and the parents.

“It was so great, because what Chris really gets is the development of a child,” said Tom Root, creator of HOPSports. “While we are talking about fitness, there are character issues, there are financial issues, and a lot of things that go into making a great kid. I think Chris really understands that component of making a great child. It went well. Anytime you can get all of these experts to come and try to mold a child, it’s just an amazing opportunity for all of us in the field. “

Draft fully understands the value of physical activity, not only to promote overall health and a healthy lifestyle, but also to help stimulate the mind and assist children with receiving a better education.

“What we really do understand now is that kids do learn better through movement,” Root said. “The way the body and the mind turns on is actually through movement first. So, by stimulating activity, you’ve actually stimulated the mind. Once we get kids moving, it just opens up the door for us to pour in as much knowledge as we possibly can.”
Another thing that Draft Family Fitness Day is able to achieve is bringing together many different organizations, whether they sponsored the event or had representatives at the event in the form of youth and parents. One of those groups, the Parent Teacher Association, was well represented in Atlanta.

“We had a couple of representatives from the Georgia PTA,” Draft said. “We’re very confident that next year, we’re going to be able to have a lot more representation in terms of parents and youth, with the Georgia PTA ‘Drafting’ them. We were also honored to have the CEO of the PTA, Byron Garrett,  attend Draft Day® and send a message,  that the PTA is in support of the camp, and  is hopeful be a partner in doing more Draft Days® in the future.”

Prior to Draft Family Fitness Day, Draft opened up the Club Room at the Museum Tower at Centennial Hill in downtown Atlanta, which features a bird's eye view of Centennial Olympic Park, for a Meet and Greet event. The Meet and Greet brought together sponsors, presenters and volunteers for a very special purpose.

“The meet and greet is a great opportunity to have more conversations,” Draft said. “During the camp, you really don’t have a chance for presenters and sponsors and volunteers to have a real, quality conversation. The meet and greet provides an opportunity for everyone that’s setting up the day, really making this day possible, to come together and share their stories, share their passion and why they donate their time to be a part of Draft Day®.”

The Draft Family Fitness Day Meet and Greet is also an opportunity for Draft to say thank you to the people that are essential in bringing the event together.

“(The presenters and sponsors are) the only reason Draft Day® happens,” Draft said. “The presenters are the key to making the classes work. These aren’t just bodies or titles, these are people that believe in the Draft Day® model. They believe in what we’re doing, and that’s why they’re there.”

The main factor Draft, his foundation and Draft Family Fitness Day bring to the Atlanta area is inspiration. During Draft’s closing ceremonies, he urged the campers and their parents not to limit Draft Day® to a single day. He asked that they share what they’ve learned with their friends, families and community, and he’s confident that the message of Draft Day® will continue to inspire the Atlanta community, even when he returns to his spot in the middle of the St. Louis Rams defense.