New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins encourages kids to stay fit

New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, three members of the Saintsations, and their mascot Gumbo thrilled hundreds of Madisonville Elementary School students Thursday, an event resulting from the school winning first place in last year’s Moo Dat contest sponsored by Brown’s Dairy and the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA). The event was part of the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" campaign, which encourages kids to lead a healthy lifestyle and complete 60 minutes of physical activity each day.Jenkins told the kids how important a healthy lifestyle was, especially if they wanted to become pro football players. When asked for a show of hands on who wanted to play football, almost all the students raised their hands. 

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The Saintsations led the pep rally, kicking off the event with a reading of Gumbo’s biography. It was an entertaining and inspiring story, one punctuated with expressions and dances by Gumbo himself.Jenkins answered questions from the audience covering a variety of topics ranging from his personal background to his daily routine at Saints camp, including what time he goes to bed at night. He stressed the importance of eating right and exercising, saying the main job of a pro football player was to “keep his body healthy.” He told the students that more than anything, he enjoyed being out on the field playing football. It gives him a feeling of freedom, he said, but he added that before each game, it takes a lot of study, practice and discipline. He gave the kids an overview of his work day, getting to work at 7 a.m. and staying at it until 5 p.m., exercising, learning plays, and meeting with his teammates.Playing the position of safety, it’s his job to make sure nobody gets past his defense, he told the crowd. To accomplish that, he sometimes has to feel, act and look “mean,” a statement that delighted many of the students. One question posed to Jenkins was that, if he wasn’t a football player, what would like to be? His answer was to be a public speaker, motivating people and kids like themselves to work hard and be successful, just what he was doing that morning. Being a professional football player helps in that regard, since so many people know him and want to meet him, he said. Principal Lauren Spencer said the response of the students was great. "We have had an unbelieveable amount of calls and requests for pictures from the pep rally!" she said. " We never imagined having so much fun with this."Madisonville Elementary posted a 139 percent increase in the amount of milk consumed during the run of the contest from October 11 to November 12. The school received $5000 as a result of the win in addition to the pep rally.

The St. Tammany Parish Public School System won the grand prize. Overall, the School System increased milk consumption by 40.8 percent and as a result the parish received the Grand Prize of a HOPSports exercise system valued at $10,000.