CLEVELAND —** The Browns visited the Walton School on Tuesday with a tried and true message in mind: sharing is caring.
That was the theme here as Christian Kirksey, Demario Davis, Malcolm Johnson, Nate Orchard, Tim Scott, and Xavier Cooper led a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school's new-look media center, which was recently refurbished by the Cleveland Browns stadium operations department and and colleagues as part of the Browns' signature First and Ten movement.
"We're grateful to come here and be part of this," Kirksey said.
And it's not every day you get to spend time making posters and eating cookies with selected students who met their monthly kindness goals as part of the school's kindness initiative to encourage positive interactions among classmates.
"My group had a poster that said 'Helping Hands' so everybody drew their hands on there to recognize you never know when you're going to need help," Cooper said. "So it's always wise to ask for help and receive it and I think what's what we wanted to do."
He added: "I thought it was something simple, something they could relate to. We're dealing with (first through eighth-graders) here, so it gives them something to think about."
The Walton School — a charter member among Cleveland Metropolitan School District's 25 current investment schools that receives "wraparound services" to reduce barriers to learning such as unstable home situations, hunger and medical issues — has been one of the Cleveland Browns Foundation's community partners for the past three years.
"I think it's really huge that the Browns advocate for school so much. I think education is so important and education throughout the world. It's huge, it'll always be huge," said Cooper, who speaks often about his aspirations of being a principal after football.
"And if the Browns players and other successful people can impact these kids, we can create better innovators in our world and make it a better place. And that starts through education, so I'm 100 percent behind Jimmy and Dee Haslam and what they're trying to do because in my future I plan on working with the charter schools and doing some things like that. So I'm very into the schools."
Kirksey echoed a similar sentiment.
"It shows that the Cleveland Browns organization cares. We're not just out there just to be playing football games and be on TV, being in the spotlight. It's more than that. It's about getting out into the community, getting your hands on, learning the community and learning the city," he said.
"When you do that, all the winning and stuff like that, it'll fall into place … it shows we're good people and that's what we're trying to do first and foremost."
The Browns are dedicated to #give10 through the team's First and Ten initiative. Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community.
All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10. The Cleveland Browns Foundation is dedicated to a solution-based, holistic approach to ensure Northeast Ohio youth receive the development and education they need as a foundation for independence and success.
"The profit is in the children, it's in the kids. Right now I'm reading this book on young innovators and what Steve Jobs and what a lot of some of the world's innovators' parents did and they pushed education toward them," Cooper said.
"My parents pushed education toward me. Now I had my trials and tribulations going into high school and out of high school, but it's something I worked at. I'm getting ready to finish my degree at Washington State and it's just exciting to be able to live what I'm talking."
For more information, visit ClevelandBrowns.com/community.