When kids have professional football players cheering them on to make healthy choices and dairy farmers to teach them about where milk comes from, it’s a recipe for success. That recipe came to life at the Denver Fuel Greatness Touchdown Recognition Celebration at Mile High Stadium, where students were recognized for completing all six steps of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
Along with their recognition, students took part in the Healthy Schools Innovation Challenge. By using Hometown Grant funds, provided by the NFL Foundation, $10,000 was awarded to middle schools that pitched ideas to a judging panel about how to improve health and wellness for their school. These grants are opportunities for schools to provide better access to dairy through healthy eating improvements.
“The Healthy Schools Innovation Challenge is one of the most impactful activities during the event,” says Nicole Croy, director, school wellness. “Students are challenged to apply the Fuel Up to Play 60 program in a tangible way that will directly impact their school or community. They are also given the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills, which is a secondary goal of the program.”
Will McIntosh of McIntosh Dairy represented farmers on the panel and joined Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos safety and Fuel Up to Play 60 Player Ambassador, Allie Pisching Executive Director of Denver Broncos Community Development and Kartheek Anekella, product development scientist at Leprino Foods. McIntosh was able to share his dairy farming story with students to help them understand where milk comes from.
After refueling with a dairy-focused snack break, students learned a dance from Broncos cheerleaders and took pictures with McIntosh and Simmons. Dairy MAX also set up an animatronic cow that students could milk and learn more about the farm to fridge story.
“Getting to meet a dairy farmer and milking the animatronic cow is always a highlight of the event for the students,” says Croy. “Many attending the event are from metro-area schools and have never been on a farm. This event brings a little bit of the farm to them and educates on the importance of cow care, sustainability and nutrition.”
The Touchdown Recognition Celebration also engaged the adults who help make it happen. Fuel Up to Play 60 program advisors were asked to invite a fellow educator to attend the Touchdown Recognition Celebration, where Dairy MAX offered a training session to encourage more program activation in the area.
By recognizing student success in Fuel Up to Play 60, Dairy MAX is helping grow affinity for dairy and creating lifelong consumers. By involving farmers throughout the program, kids feel more connected to where their food comes from and trust dairy’s role in a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about how youth-focused initiatives are increasing consumption in schools, click here.