CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns linebacker
The players fielded questions about playing football in the NFL and the importance of staying in shape, and also participated in calisthenics and football drills with the students.
“It’s cool to get them out and encourage them to stay active, stay in school,” Johnson said. “I love doing stuff like this.
“( I wanted) to just get them to make a goal for themselves every day, every week, every month and try to work at something and get better. Whether you want to be an engineer, a firefighter, whatever, just try to work at it every day.”
While the students welcomed the opportunity to work with the Browns’ players, Hagg and Smelley each understood the chance they had to serve as positive role models.
“It’s fun,” Smelley said. “I love doing this. I love being with the kids. We just wanted to come out here and enjoy some time with them. It’s been a good day.”
Hagg added, “It was awesome, a great experience. The kids were super-cool. They were all running around, having a good time, and made us laugh and have a good time too, so it was sweet to be out here.”
The event was especially meaningful for Johnson, who grew up in Fairfield, California.
“Growing up in the Bay Area, I loved the Raiders,” Johnson said. “No Raiders ever came to our school, but I watched them on TV, and that would’ve been cool for me seeing someone I aspired to be like and what I wanted to do just be successful. Growing up in my area, you didn’t really see too many people successful on that level that were doing something they always wanted to do. I feel like that’s big for somebody to see at a young age.”
Wednesday’s event was aligned with the America Scores initiative, a national after-school program that gets middle-school children in grades three through five active in competitive soccer and poetry writing.
City Year is an education-focused non-profit organization that unites young people, ages 17-24, for a year of full-time service designed to keep students in school until graduation. The organization focuses on attendance, behavior and classroom performance through tutoring, mentoring and after-school programs.
City Year is in 24 communities in the United States, and has two international affiliates.
“The message that was brought today (from) the Browns was something that’s needed in regard to them being role models and help further shape the minds of this generation that’s coming up,” said Toi Comer, director of development for City Year Cleveland. “Anytime there’s something of a positive nature that’s going on in the community, where people are able to be reflective of themselves and try to help empower our young people, that’s always the best thing.”
Added Matt Yunker, manager of youth football for the Browns, “City Year’s a tremendous organization. They do great work within the city of Cleveland. For them to come out here and enforce their message about volunteerism and mentorship and be out here to help these kids after a long day of school, it really epitomizes our partnership with City Year and what they do for the city of Cleveland.”
To learn more about City Year Cleveland visit, http://www.cityyear.org/cleveland.aspx
The Browns Play 60 program is in association with Cleveland Clinic, Medical Mutual and the American Dairy Association Mideast and Fuel Up to Play 60.