ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Malik Jackson nears his first NFL season as a starter, he's looking to not just become more of a leader on the field, but also off it in the community.
Jackson will host his first football camp in Colorado Springs for children ages 8-14 from July 9-11, offering support for children in their athletic goals and also in their lives in other facets.
"What I want to show the kids is that if you just have the right skills, you go out and do it right and put your mind to it, you can really go as far in life as you want to in anything you do, whether it be football or school or something culinary or hospitality; whatever you want to do, you can do it," Jackson said.
With the help of Rodney Smith, the co-founder and president of Helping Hands for Freedom, Jackson offers complimentary entry to the camp. Smith's organization focuses on helping military children and their families and has partnered with Jackson with the goal of helping kids in military families who are thrust into tough situations of deployment, injury or loss.
"I just want to let them know that football is an option. You can come out here and just have fun for a day," Jackson continued. "I know it's hard, parents are struggling, the economy's tough, so for parents to be able to see their kids smiling for however long we're out there—an hour or two hours—just having fun and forgetting about the outside world, or what's going on at home, is wonderful."
Ultimately, Jackson knows the reality of the fickleness of celebrity and knows how this is a prime time to make an impact on lives and he wants to take advantage of it.
"I think that's my main goal is just to be out in the community and let them know who I am behind the mask and just get that going," Jackson said. "Because football only lasts so long and I should touch a few lives while I'm still doing it and still relevant."
And while that's the case, he wants to give kids and their families the feeling he gets from playing football.
The feeling of escape is something that Jackson particularly enjoys about going to play the game, even as an adult, and it's something he'd like to share with children in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area, which is home to many military families.