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Vikings Player Helps Kids Stay Active Through ‘Play 60′

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Vikings players are no strangers to working out and staying active. After all, that’s how they earn a living. But on Tuesday, one of them went to school to help spread the fitness gospel.

Put kids in an open gym, and they’re likely to run around. Put a Viking in a gym, and they’re likely to listen.

“Everything’s possible,” said Vikings running back Toby Gerhart. “If you dream big, you can reach ‘em, so go for it.”

Gerhart kicked off the NFL “Play 60″ campaign at Sullivan Elemetary and Anishinabe Academy on Tuesday by leading the kids through an obstacle course.

“Kind of reminded me of like a cliche over the goalline into the endzone kind of thing, so it was a good time,” he said.

The goal is to get kids committed to being active for 60 minutes a day. The school gets activities and ideas. And the kids get playbooks to chart their progress.

“It’s a challenge to find time to move, but it reaps so many great rewards academically,” said Ben Tressel, physical education lead of Minneapolis Schools. “It helps our brain function, it helps our social interactions.”

The NFL and American Heart Association created Play 60 to fight childhood obesity. Nationally there are three times as many overweight kids as 1980.

They don’t have that kind of problem at these schools but do want to teach kids lifelong skills.

“We can’t just focus on our physical education time in the school,” Tressel said. “We have to make it like any other academic subject where we’re on top of it all day long every day.”

Minneapolis has four schools signed up for the Play 60 program this year but hopes it expands to more schools in the future.

“I think if you can get the message across when they’re young it can carry over and create habits for when they’re older,” Gerhart said.

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