Jayhawks Men's Basketball Visit Local Elementary Schools for Fun & Fitness

Sept. 25, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. – –

University of Kansas men’s basketball players have been participating in physical education classes across Lawrence this week promoting Fun and Fitness at area elementary schools.

Jayhawks Elijah Johnson, Brady Morningstar and Travis Releford visited Deerfield Elementary on Monday, while Cole Aldrich, Mario Little and Jordan Juenemann went to Sunset Hill Elementary Tuesday. On Friday, Tyshawn Taylor, Xavier Henry and Chase Buford visited Langston Hughes Elementary.

“We love working with kids and teaching them about how to take care of their bodies,” Aldrich said. “Hopefully in reaching out to them, we are creating more awareness.”

“Being from Lawrence, I always enjoy getting out to these type events,” Morningstar said. “We appreciate the enthusiasm that these kids show towards us. We have as much fun as they do.”

Fun and Fitness supports the Lawrence school district’s wellness initiative by providing student-athletes the opportunity to motivate young elementary students to exercise and eat well during regular visits to elementary classrooms throughout the Lawrence community. The students receive a brochure with diet and exercise tips from Jayhawk student-athletes. The children can also use the brochure to track their weekly activity with the “Fun and Fitness Log.” In pledging to eat healthy foods and exercise 30 minutes a day, students also get the autograph of their student-athlete “captain.”

Friday at Langston Hughes Elementary School the fourth grade gym class was filled with excitement before Buford, Taylor and Henry walked through the door.

One student asked, “Are they going to run around and play with us?”

When Reenie Stogsdill, 1985 Kansas Softball Player, and gym teacher answered yes, the entire fourth grade class started smiling with anticipation.

“I am excited for them to come here and talk to us about different ways to stay healthy,” Jessica Coleman, Langston Hughes fourth grader, said.

The day started off with fun and games. Taylor may have towered over the fourth grade girls, but that did not stop him from joining in on the hula-hoop contest.

Buford impressed the boys by climbing the rope, Henry gave many pushes on the rope swing and of course they all joined in on a friendly game of basketball.

“I think playing with KU basketball players is a really fun thing because they don’t get to come to the schools very often,” Guy Link, Langston Hughes fourth grader said. “They also are teaching us good things about fitness, and they are letting us win a little bit, which is a good thing.”

When the games were over, the Jayhawks gave a short speech on eating healthy and living an active lifestyle.

“It is important to come out here and let these guys know that fitness doesn’t start in high school or college it starts when you are young and developing good habits, Buford said. “It’s fun though, coming out here to interact with the kids.”

“You know a lot kids are staying at home playing video games and on the computer to come out here and let me know that being active is important,” Taylor said. “I think these kids are going to take that in and I had fun out here.”

The Fun and Fitness campaign will continue to support the Lawrence schools with more visits from student-athletes in the near future.

For more information, please contact Mike Harrity, Assistant Athletics Director at mharrity@ku.edu