Middle schoolers mix it up with Patriots' McCourty as part of healthy living initiative

Nov 28, 2014

A lot of students at Wareham Middle School are fans of the New England Patriots, but at least one New England Patriot is a fan of the students at the school.

Recently, Devin McCourty, star safety for the Patriots, retweeted a pic taken by gym teacher Nichole Stahmer of several students eating lunch at the school. Stahmer shared the picture as part of Fuel up to Play 60, a program funded by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League that promotes healthy living among younger children.

“Our kids were blown away,” said Stahmer of the students’ reaction to their picture being shared with McCourty’s thousands of followers on Twitter. “It got them even more motivated (to take part in the program). He is one of our big supporters.”

Stahmer said she got the kids involved in Fuel Up to Play 60 about two years ago when trying to look for grant money to help guide her students towards making healthy decisions, including but not limited to eating and exercising.

“It sounded like a really cool program and it came at no cost to us,” said Stahmer.

Fuel up to Play 60 provides grant money to participating schools nationwide, giving to both food service programs and physical education programs at schools. Stahmer said that last year, the school was able to get money for gym equipment and a smoothie maker in the cafeteria.

In order for the school to get the grants, though, she had to get students to sign up for the program through its website, where students are then encouraged to take part in regular activities and writing prompts that show the some of the healthy choices they make each day. It also asks students and teachers to post pictures of them practicing healthy habits, such as the picture she posted of the students which shows student Duncan MacGregor eating an apple and enjoying a milk product and Ezra Barboza holding a cardboard cutout of McCourty, who’s an advocate of the Play 60 program.

Recently, Stahmer said 30 of her students won a field trip to the Dana Farber Field House, which is the Patriots’ practice facility for Play Like a Pro Day. There, they’ll meet former Patriots players, speak with nutritionists, and discuss things like leadership and healthy living.

“This is a really awesome prize, but this is just the beginning,” said Stahmer, who’s next mission is to get each and every student at the school to sign up for the program.

Stahmer said students 13-and-older can sign up on their own, but students 12-and-under need permission from their parents.

“It’s way easier if the parents can just sign up for the accounts with their kids,” said Stahmer, adding that Wareham Middle is currently ninth in the state of Massachusetts as far participation in the program.

Still, she’d like see that number improve.

“If we could get 100 percent of our students signed up we could get a lot more activities at our school, including having a Patriots player visit the school. We want to be the number one school in Massachusetts—why wouldn’t we want to be?”

For more information on the program, visit http://www.fueluptoplay60.com.