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Ready, Set, Go: NFL Player Chris Draft Challenges Kids to Get Active in Reading and Exercise

by Raymar Hampshire

Do you remember when you fell in love with reading? Many of us can recall that defining moment when we realized that reading is fun.

For veteran NFL player Chris Draft, it was the day his mother took him and his brother to get their library cards. He recalled how special he felt at that moment, later emphatically proclaiming to his friends saying, “Man, look I got my library card!”

As for his love for fitness and exercise, it was only natural that he became a star athlete after his parents met on a basketball court in college. He recalls fond childhood memories of playing tennis, racquetball, and basketball as a family. Since then, he has been inspiring young people across the country to adopt a lifestyle that builds strong minds and healthy bodies.

Through his family foundation, Chris Draft has partnered with the Corporation for National and Community Service's United We Serve:Let's Read. Let's Move. initiative to encourage Americans to address summer reading loss and childhood obesity.

“The key to really making change is not just to get a kid to read five books over the summer to prevent summer reading loss, but it's to get them to really love and be consistent with reading--to get them to love being active,” said Draft.

On July 20, Draft traveled across the Washington, D.C. metro area to share his love of reading and moving with children in our nation's capital.

His first stop, Quantico Marine Base, is a site where his father was once stationed. He stressed the importance of reading for 30 minutes and playing 60 minutes each day by reading and engaging children of military families in movement.

What better place to promote reading and activity than at the Department of Education? At the Let's Read! Let's Move! event, Draft read and moved alongside Department of Education Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Waldo; writer and President Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng; celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn; acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service Robert Velasco, II; and a room full of energetic and smiling children.

He finished his visit with a trip to the local Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA for more fun activities geared toward inspiring children's love of reading and movement.

The next day, he mentioned that if he were to watch the film highlights of his day of Let's Read. Let's Move. events, the best part would be “seeing the kids smile when they are moving and to see their faces light up when we placed a free book in their hands--knowing that there is a story in that book that will forever inspire them.”

While his on the field stats are important, Draft's work off the field stressing the importance of literacy and physical activity are far more important to him.

During these events alone, eight federal agencies and organizations helped more than 500 children through the Let's Read. Let's Move. events, where more than 1,000 books were distributed through First Book.

So what can you do to inspire reading and moving for the young people in your life? Chris Draft has a few tips to get you started:

  1. Focus on the community where you live -- don't think you have to travel far to make a difference. Through Serve.gov you can take his advice and locate volunteer opportunities in your area.
  2. Keep it simple and fun! The idea of addressing summer reading loss and childhood obesity is simply making reading and movement enjoyable, so bring your enthusiasm to service and have fun! You can access our toolkits to find more fun ways to serve.

Join Chris Draft and other volunteers across the country as we answer the President's call to service! Share how you or your organization is joining in the efforts to combat childhood obesity and summer learning loss by posting your service story on our Facebook page or letting us know on Twitter using the #LRLM hashtag.

Click here to read more Strong Minds stories.

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