If anyone knows how to tackle hunger it’s Houston Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader.
The 6-foot, 3-inch, 330-pound nose tackle and his buddy TORO, the Texans mascot, came to Ridgemont Elementary School last Wednesday to promote the National Football League’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program and Dairy MAX’s Breakfast Games.
“One of the things I’ve learned with the Texans is how important good nutrition is at the beginning of every day to help you get started,” Reader said.
Reader helped pass out cartons of milk and joined select students for a healthy breakfast before going to the gym and joining TORO and former Texans receiver J.J. Moses for fun and games with the rest of the school.
“It’s amazing that I’m eating with an NFL player. This is my first time,” said fourth grader Santos Torres.
“It’s pretty exciting,” added his friend, Andrew Sowell.
“When I was a kid I wish I had something like this,” Reader said. “I wish I had somebody come in to tell me these things.”
He said it’s important for children to have nutritional fundamentals at an early age.
“Even if they’re not the best at it, at least they have the nutritional basis of what category the foods are in, of how things work, and how important those things are to you,” he said.
In addition to eating right, he also knows the importance of getting exercise.
“I think it’s super important, you know, 60 minutes a day,” he said. “Tremendously important, as long as you’re up and active and moving around, you know, they’re kids they’ve got plenty of energy, they’re always moving around and you’ve got to find a way to burn off some energy because if you don’t you’re going to lose their attention and lose a lot of things and start living an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s just super important they get up and get active, have fun and hang out with their friends, it’s valuable.”
Going into his fourth season with the Texans, Reader has seen the difference the Fuel Up to Play 60 program is making in children all over the Houston area.
“It’s making a huge difference. Kids know it’s fun to go outside, it’s fun to play,” he said. “As I was talking about with the food things, I didn’t know what categories different foods were in. There’s no way I could come in and do the chart these kids are doing. So, I think it helps give them a base of how to live a healthy lifestyle the rest of their life.”
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre joined the pupils in the gym, waving colored pom poms and cheering the youngsters on as they did tasks and completed obstacles.
“This is a thrilling event. We can’t do anything without our collaborative partners and Fuel Up to Play 60 and Dairy MAX and the Texans, I mean this is a great partnership to really make a difference in the lives of kids,” he said. “By bringing a football player here, a name they recognize, someone they’re impressed by, he’s going to say things that encourage them to make better choices and to do the right thing in regard to their wellness and their diet, so I think it’s a great event and I’m happy that I could be here this morning.”
He said he sees the difference the programs have in the schools.
“Programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 make a big difference in our schools because the kids spend so much time learning from the books, but here in Fort Bend, we’re about developing the whole child so this is a way we can really connect into that their wellness. That is necessary to supporting their learning, their book learning, and we see them when they can engage with celebrities like an NFL players and get a little special treat and a special t-shirt, and do special activities it does make a difference. It kind of reinforces good behaviors and it’s a life-altering experience for them.”