USD students, NFL star Ben Leber team up for health care

VERMILLION, S.D. -- On Friday afternoon, April 9, students from The University of South Dakota and staff from Jolley Elementary in Vermillion will team up with NFL linebacker Ben Leber to tackle childhood obesity and inactivity.

Through the NFL’s “Play 60” initiative and USD’s Health Care Reform and the Role of Consumer Responsibility, part of USD’s Interdisciplinary Education and Action (IdEA) Program, students at Jolley Elementary will participate in a variety of activities with Leber and 33 USD students to promote a healthy lifestyle centered on diet and exercise.

“The students wanted to do something special, something fun to promote wellness and health care,” said Mary Derby, director of the Health Services Administration Program at USD and an instructor for the class. “The students and staff at Jolley are the key to the success of the program. They were willing to take on something new, that somewhat disrupts their daily schedule, but something they feel is good for their student body.”

In addition to promoting the NFL’s “Play 60” initiative, students in Derby’s class have written lesson plans for Jolley Elementary P.E. teachers, participated in afternoon recesses with second through fifth grade students, and developed nutritional messages for morning announcements at the school. A huge football fan, specifically of the Minnesota Vikings, Derby learned of Leber’s support of “Play 60” and, along with Jolley Principal Mark Upward and Barb Schwartz, guidance counselor, coordinated the Vikings’ linebacker’s visit to Jolley. A Vermillion native, Leber will be at the school from 1 to 3 p.m., including an all-school assembly. He will also play games with the Jolley Elementary students – games designed by students in Derby’s class.

“We were able to contact Ben via e-mail and because of his involvement with the ‘Play 60’ program, he was more than happy to participate,” added Derby, who said the goal for her students is more than just promoting  games and exercise for kids, but having them learn about staying healthy and achieving personal goals.

“One of the assignments, for my students, is a personal health goal,” she explained. “Some of the goals range from training for a half marathon to drinking more water on a daily basis, but no matter what the objective is, it’s their journey and all about how it makes them feel once they accomplish their goal.”

She added that the goal for everyone, USD students and Jolley Elementary students particularly, is to have fun on April 9. For more information about Leber’s visit or the Health Care Reform and the Role of Consumer Responsibility class, please contact Derby at Mary.Derby@usd.edu or call (605) 677-5692.