Pelicans players teach children importance of a healthy lifestyle

October 21, 2013

New Orleans Pelicans players helped launch the Pelicans Junior Training Camp Program presented by Ochsner Health System, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). Monday’s event was held at Christian Brothers School in City Park.

Pelicans staff and players spent the afternoon hosting a camp for the students to participate in basketball activities, while emphasizing the importance of eating healthy, exercising and living tobacco free.

Before the rotations began, Pelicans radio play-by-play announcer Sean Kelley introduced the five players that were going to be at the different stations: Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Greg Stiemsma, and Jeff Withey.

To show their affection for Davis, the students’ foreheads were taped with a black “unibrow” above their eyes. After the players gave high-fives to the rows of students, Anderson, who is a member of the NBA’s FIT Team, introduced the Pelicans Junior Training Camp Program with some advice about living a healthy life and how being healthy has positively affected him.

“I always started my day out with breakfast – how many of you guys today had breakfast this morning?” Anderson said. The entire gym filled with the students’ screams, frantically raising their hands.

“I will tell you guys that I never planned on the NBA,” he said. “I had a lot of doors opened for me, and it was important for me to be healthy. That’s why we’re here today to share some important stuff with you guys.”

Cole Stromboe, a Christian Brothers student, enjoyed seeing the players. He said that he has already enjoyed the Pelicans this season.

“Over the summer, I saw the new Pelicans facility,” Strombroe said. “I got to learn about Tom Benson.”

All of the students stood for some quick stretches and then dispersed to the various stations which included wing span and vertical jump measurements and hoop skill practice.

Despite the fact that the day was for the kids, Holiday admitted to enjoying it just as much as the kids.

“I’m still a little kid at heart,” Holiday said. “But they always like to dunk. It’s not fun to dunk anymore.”

The Pelicans, Ochsner Health System, Blue Cross Blue Shield and TFL are focused on helping students in the Gulf Coast live a healthy and active lifestyle in an effort to end childhood obesity and prevent Louisiana youth from starting to use tobacco products. With the support of their partners, the Pelicans will host two junior training camps each week for children between the ages of seven and 12. Each junior training camp will reach up to 150 students, giving them the opportunity to participate in basketball-related drills and games, learn about nutrition and enjoy the Pelicans’ game day experience at school.

In additional to learning about being healthy, students will learn about the importance of teamwork through engaging and fun drills as they complete a circuit during the junior training camp. TFL will also be encouraging students to pledge to stay tobacco free and lead efforts to encourage their peers and mentors to do so, as well.

“The Pelicans Junior Training Camp program aims to teach students about living a healthy and active life,” said Owner/Vice Chairman of the Board Rita Benson LeBlanc. “Childhood obesity is a national and local epidemic and it is important for the future success of the Gulf South that our children are learning how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. We hope that Pelicans Junior Training Camps give local children the opportunity to learn how to exercise their minds and bodies so they can excel in the classroom, at home and in every aspect of their lives.”

Alex Hurst with Tobacco Free Living said that he thinks that events like these are very impactful.

“These players are huge role models, and the kids will actually listen to them,” Hurst said. “Their influence on the kids and on the city is incredible.”

Anderson will serve as the spokesman of the program, as he is passionate about teaching children the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how it will help them in their future.

“Being active and eating healthy do more for your body than just give you energy – it helps you focus in school and gives you the opportunity to be at your very best physically and mentally,” Anderson said. “As a member of the NBA Fit Team, it’s an important initiative to me personally to help educate local youth on why it’s important to be active and make healthy eating choices. We hope that, through Pelicans Junior Training Camps, kids will see that being active and healthy can be fun.”

As a part of the NBA FIT Team, Anderson will lead the Pelicans as they celebrate NBA FIT Live Healthy Week (Jan. 3-10). The week features all 30 NBA teams and players joining community members and partners to highlight the importance of living an active, healthy lifestyle through grassroots programs and events, special on-court apparel, and in-arena and online programming.

NBA/WNBA FIT is the league's comprehensive health and wellness program that encourages physical activity and healthy living for children and families through programs, events, and products year-round. Through a nationwide network of more than 1,200 community-based organizations, NBA/WNBA FIT reaches more than 2.5 million youth and families each year.