David Bruton and the Broncos went to Aurora West College Prep Academy to kick off Fuel Up to Play 60's "For the Love of Play" campaign.
AURORA, Colo. — **As a former substitute teacher, it's no surprise David Bruton Jr. looks comfortable in school settings.
He was back in form Tuesday to help kick off Play 60 and Western Dairy's Fuel Up to Play 60 "For the Love of Play" program by speaking to a gymnasium full of Aurora West College Prep Academy students. Focusing on nutrition, Bruton held an interactive session with the children as he went about the auditorium asking and answering questions about the vitamins and minerals that can help foster healthy development.
Being around so many children helped him return to that youthful state of mind. In hand, he had his bulleted list of reminders for his speech, but he tossed them aside. Bruton knew them, he said, but above all, he wanted a more free-flowing interactive experience for the kids. If they had questions, he answered them. Bruton ran around the room finding willing participants for activities or to call on to answer his questions.
He also emphasized the importance of physical activity, bringing children up to dance with him, Broncos cheerleaders and Miles. And in another quiz segment, children who weren't listening and incorrectly answered a question had to do pushups in front of him and their classmates, though that might have been a bit of an incentive for students who were also fans.
Representatives from Western Dairy and Aurora Public Schools, along with Cindy Kellogg, the Broncos' Vice President of Community Development, were on hand to present the school system with a $10,000 Denver Broncos Hometown Grant to benefit 10 district schools by expanding access to healthy breakfasts.
Healthy eating habits go hand in hand with healthy activity levels in forming a physically beneficial lifestyle, which Bruton knows firsthand.
"It's huge, not just during the season, but during the offseason," Bruton said. "We have to come back in shape and with good body composition and what have you. It's huge for us as NFL players if we want to have longevity in this league."
He noted the importance nutrition has in the body, physically, of course, but he also said that nutrition has a big impact mentally. "You have to be cognizant and able to concentrate in the meeting rooms. Eating well and putting the right stuff in our body allows us to concentrate and transfer what we learn about in the meeting room to the field."
Bruton, who was an extremely active child playing basketball and touch football, riding BMX, rollerblading and skateboarding, recognizes the effort that must be made today to combat today's challenges to youth wellness. "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with playing Xbox or what have you, but if that's all you're doing all day, and you're not getting out and you're not eating well or being active, it's not going to be beneficial for you in the long run."
Being able to speak to children on such a level to reach so many is something Bruton holds in high regard. "It means the world to me. It definitely is truly a blessing to have a platform such as being a Denver Bronco and an NFL player and to portray a message about being healthy and eating well. It's definitely imperative at our level to eat healthy and be active and be in shape, exercising. And to have that platform for a message for the kids, it's definitely a true blessing."
Bruton didn't have the privilege to hear that message when he was young. "I wasn't taught much about it," he said. "It was never really a huge issue, child obesity and what have you, but it's definitely an epidemic now that we have to tackle and as far as Fuel Up to Play 60 and Western Dairy Association, it's something we're grabbing by the horns and we want the kids to be active and be interactive in the program and take control of it."
The program's involvement at Aurora West College Prep Academy adds the school to the 73,000 participating schools with over 11 million participating students.
Bruton inaugurated a new class to those numbers, and did so by having a blast. "I have a lot of fun and make a lot of fun of learning, and I feel like a lot of teachers do," he said. "It's easy when you have kids who are willing to learn. It's definitely motivating as an adult and as a teacher."
As seen on Tuesday, if the students in that gym were any indication, they've got plenty of willing learners under their roof to increase a growing focus on healthy habits in nutrition and exercise.