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Philadelphia Eagles Help City Students Get In Shape

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By: Anne Forline
Gloucester City News

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and Eagles Radio, together with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, issued a challenge to New Jersey’s public school kids to get fit.

The five-week program, from October 29 to December 2 of last year, challenged students to “Move Like Maclin.”

More than 250 students at Mary Ethel Costello School, under the direction of physical education teacher, Lisa Triantafillou, with assistance from Patty Blaylock and Dana Fresolone, accepted the challenge.

In order to “Move like Maclin” students walked, ran or jogged during recess their recess periods and outside of school.

They were also responsible for keeping track of their minutes in an activity log.

At the conclusion of the program, the most “active school” won a Pep Rally with a guest appearance from Maclin.

Also, the top 200 children who clocked the most minutes in the state would receive autographed Maclin jerseys.

Although the E.T. Hamilton Elementary School in Voorhees took first place in the contest and won the Pep Rally featuring Maclin, the hard work of the students at Mary Ethel Costello did not go unnoticed.

Triantafillou stated that Mary Ethel Costello came in second place by logging a remarkable one million minutes of activity time. She said that Maclin was so impressed with the students’ hard work, that he sent 70 autographed jerseys and 250 signed pictures to the school.

Triantafillou said, “We were beyond excited to receive the autographed jerseys and pictures.”  Of the students who were awarded a coveted jersey, she said they were “top performers.”

When Triantafillou called the students down to give them their prize, she recalled: “So many students were overcome with emotion. Their eyes filled up and a few even shook my hand.”

Fourth grader, Jordan Jimenez, was so excited and surprised that she won a jersey. 

She clocked her hours by running and playing softball.

Still in disbelief that she won, she said, “There were so many kids who did the challenge. I never thought it would happen that I would win. I never thought I would be chosen.”

The students’ excitement over winning the jerseys and autographed pictures still had not subsided when Triantafillou said she received even more good news.

Mary Ethel Costello School had been selected as one of six schools to participate in the NFL Play 60 Challenge with the American Heart Association and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The six-week challenge, like the “Move like Maclin” Program, encourages the students to increase physical activity both in and out of school, totaling at least 60 minutes per day.

Participating students were given individual Play 60 Challenge log books filled with information, tips and suggestions for helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Because Mary Ethel Costello School was selected as a participant in the NFL Play 60 Challenge, there was a special Pep Rally held on March 1 to get the students excited about the program and to encourage them to continue to be active for the rest of the month. 

The students were thrilled that that the Eagles Mascot “Swoop” along with two Eagles cheerleaders came to the school to celebrate this special Pep Rally with them.

During the Pep Rally, selected students participated in a team relay challenge.  Those challenges included balancing, jumping rope, mountain climbing and basketball shooting.

The winners were fifth graders Gavin Callahan, Joe Repici, Joey Ryan and sixth graders Ethan Carpenter and Evan Witcraft. The boys were awarded an Eagles hat for winning.

Joe Repici, who participated in the mountain climbing leg of the relay said: “I was nervous and afraid I would mess up and that I wouldn’t do good. But I feel happy and excited that our team won.”

Joe’s teammate, Gavin Callahan, had to jump rope during the relay.

He agreed and added, “I was excited I got picked to participate and when we won, I was pumped!”

After the fitness challenge, three students were selected to address the Eagles Cheerleaders and ask questions.

They were fourth grader, Brianna Penny, fifth grader Patrick Maltese and sixth grader, Burleight Trower.

Patrick said that he was surprised that he was picked to speak with the cheerleaders.  He said the cheerleaders “were very nice” and asked them how long they were on the squad.

He said one cheerleader responded that she was on the squad for four years and will have to try out again in April.

Triantafillou said she is also very excited for the students as they continue their newest challenge of working toward achieving 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

As a physical education teacher, she said these types of challenges are great motivators to help the kids get healthy and moving.

Triantafillou is always on the lookout for something to challenge the students so they do not lose interest. 

“We are fighting a battle against video games and TV. We wanted to find something motivational that would help them exercise and something that they could connect with. They all know Swoop and the Eagles,” she said.

She continued, “The kids are definitely motivated. They are always coming up to me with their playbooks and activity logs so they can show me how much they’ve done.”

The students are already looking ahead to the possibility of winning the Grand Prize of the challenge, which is a trip to the Nova Care Center in Philadelphia where 25 students will participate in “The Philadelphia Eagles Field Day Celebration Event.” 

It will be hosted by Eagles players with fun football related activities in May.

The NFL Play 60 Challenge concludes at the end of March.

Anne Forline blogs at: