Moments later, New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins walked in and the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. Jenkins paid a surprise visit to the school in Harvey to talk with the students about healthy eating and lifestyle habits.“I chose running because I have to chase people down and tackle them,” he said. “So, I like to do sprints and run back and forth across the field so I can become faster.”Jenkins expressed the importance of regular physical activity, especially as a sports player. “To play football, you have to be big, strong and fast, so we work out pretty much about four or five times a week (during the regular season) and that doesn’t count the games,” he said.The student attendees included those who received A’s and B’s in conduct along with the winners of the Fuel Up to Play 60 Spirit Challenge. The students were asked to create a video, song, commercial or cheer to inspire others to become involved with making their school a healthier place. As a result, Woodmere was also awarded a $600 cash prize, donated by the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. The donation will go toward creating a healthier school environment by providing things like physical education equipment.Jenkins answered several of the students’ questions and gave them tips, along with an inside look into his own habits. Students also asked Jenkins more personal questions, such as how he became a football player.“I started playing football in the fourth grade and I actually didn’t like it when I first started,” he said. “My dad made me play and I quit the first two years because I wasn’t really that good; but over the years I stuck with it, got better and now I’m in the NFL.”Third-grade student and Spirit Challenge participant Roshonda Johnson said she was happy and excited when Jenkins walked in, and she said she learned a lot from his presentation.“I learned that I have to stay healthy and be active,” she said.In addition to teaching the students to be healthy, Jenkins also stressed the importance of listening to their teachers.“To get to your dreams, you have to go to school, and if you don’t listen to your teachers, you won’t do well in school and make it to your dreams,” he said. “You have to respect your teachers and listen to them because they know how to get you to where you want to be and they are here to help you.“When I was your age, I didn’t really like homework and sometimes my teachers would get on my nerves; but when I’d listen to them I’d see that they only wanted to get me to where I needed to be to accomplish my dreams.”
Last week, nearly 150 Woodmere Elementary students eagerly sat in the school cafeteria, awaiting a big surprise.
SUSAN POAG / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE