ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --David Bruton turned and raced down the field, football tucked under his arm, before reaching out and handing the ball off to his teammate.
With a grin stretched across her face, a young student from Montclair School of Academics & Enrichment took the ball from Bruton in stride and took off in a sprint. On a morning dedicated to promoting positive health and wellness, it was a recurring sight on a playground teeming with active and energetic children – and a couple of enthusiastic Broncos.
Bruton and teammate Chris Harris Jr. visited Montclair School of Academics & Enrichment on Tuesday morning as part of the NFL PLAY 60 campaign – a morning when the school received a $10,000 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment on behalf of the Broncos, the NFL and Comcast, which is both a partner of the Broncos and a league partner on the NFL PLAY 60 campaign.
The school was selected as a winner in the NFL PLAY 60 Super School contest – a nationwide contest where one school in each of the 32 NFL markets and in two non-NFL markets was chosen to receive a grant and a special visit from NFL players.
It was a morning all about inspiring and enabling children to be healthy and active – a message that resonates strongly with Harris Jr.
"Obesity is definitely just growing in the U.S. and it's something that we try to get kids active – just 60 minutes a day is huge," Harris Jr. said. "I think that can go a long way in their health. And also, just giving back to the kids. With us being role models in the NFL – if we say they need to work out or be active for 60 minutes, most of the kids will do that."
In a gymnasium packed with Montclair students, Harris Jr. and Bruton spoke about the importance of establishing healthy habits and staying active – while Comcast Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Tashjian was on hand to present the school with the grant.
After the assembly, Harris Jr. and Bruton led students in fitness activities on the school's playground. Students jumped rope, did sit-ups and push-ups, ran through cones and played football with the Broncos – participating in the types of physical activities that Bruton noted are critical to children's health and performance in school.
"It's important just because, as Americans, we're obese in our youth on an average. We want to promote health and awareness," Bruton said. "Being active and eating right, it can keep kids away from developing diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, and keep them healthy. It helps keep them active and also give them the energy to perform well in school, on the field or whatever they decide to do. So it's just promoting that health and awareness so that they can be productive, good students and citizens throughout their lives."
Laughter and smiles filled the playground from both students and players alike – and Harris Jr. noted that he relished the opportunity to set a positive example for the children.
"It definitely feels good. It's always great to be a role model – always having a lot of responsibility on yourself," Harris Jr. said. "We love the kids, I definitely love being around the kids and I want to see them succeed. That's part of why we do this."
Bruton added that he hoped the duo's visibility as professional athletes would help reinforce the importance of healthy, active lifestyles to the children.
"It's truly a blessing. It's definitely important for guys in our position – as teachers and ambassadors of the PLAY 60 program – to continue to promote it and just deliver a message," Bruton said. "You see what we do on the field, but they don't necessarily know what we do off the field to be ready to do what we do on the field. There are a lot of intricacies that we have to go about on our daily basis – whether it's food, our workout or practice. It's just truly a blessing to be in a position to promote health and awareness."
And on a day where Bruton and Harris Jr. traded the weight room for the playground, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane for the Broncos.
"I wanted to see if some of the kids knew how to Double Dutch," Bruton said, before adding with a laugh, "Yeah, it's been a long time since I actually Double Dutched and had fun with a jump rope instead of it being part of a workout.
"So it's definitely great – all the programs out there were not just kids playing games, but there were also weights, you could do push-ups and sit-ups," he added. "They got a very good mixture of a lot of activities that they could do."