On Friday, May 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers COO Brian Ford, Head Coach Lovie Smith, defensive end Michael Johnson, running back Doug Martin, and more than a dozen Buccaneers rookies joined Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools MaryEllen Elia and students at B.C. Graham Elementary School to celebrate the completion of the first Buccaneers Fitness Zone of 2014. The event commemorated an area-wide partnership between the Buccaneers and Tampa Bay schools through the Buccaneers Academies initiative, an educational effort which is impacting more than 12,000 students.
Buccaneers Academies aim to inspire, equip, and celebrate students through incentive-based programs and monthly challenges that provide fun, engaging, and motivating opportunities to learn. Throughout the school year, lesson plans that encourage good behavior, reading, writing, and healthy lifestyles have been implemented with each Buccaneers Academy that receives a Buccaneers Fitness Zone, featuring a court cover for its outdoor recreation area. The Buccaneer-themed court covers inspire physical activity by allowing more children to play outside with less risk of sun exposure and heat exhaustion during their physical education periods.
“This is important,” said Smith. “It gets hot here in Tampa, but exercise is also a part of your education, of healthy living. To have a way to be able to do a few more exercises in a covered area like this is important.”
The long term commitment includes the construction of a brand new Buccaneers Academy Fitness Zone at 13 Hillsborough County Schools, as well as updating the eight original Fitness Zones constructed over the past three years. In addition to the Fitness Zones, Buccaneers Academies also offer innovative educational programming designed to assist students to reach their academic goals. The newest initiative was launched this week: the “Ticket to the Future,” a commitment from the team to all Buccaneers Academy fifth grade students. With the goal of aiding the efforts of Hillsborough County Schools in dropout prevention work, students will be encouraged to redeem their Ticket for an interview with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization after graduating from college. This Ticket symbolizes the Buccaneers’ long term commitment to students that stretches beyond their elementary education, and aims to inspire local youths to achieve success in the classroom.
“When I was a little kid, I saw an NFL player and I was excited,” said Martin. “He talked about getting his degree, and it was inspiring. It’s good for us to be out here and inspire these kids to get that degree and get that education.”
“We’re investing in our future as a Buccaneer organization with our football team,” added Smith. “The players we have here today, right now they’re investing in offseason work to have a successful season. The same thing goes with the students here at B.C. Graham – to have an opportunity to be successful later on.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play an active role in youth development through a variety of health and education initiatives with players, coaches, cheerleaders and staff. With an increased emphasis on youth health and wellness, the Buccaneers’ PLAY 60 Challenge and Buccaneers Academies initiative help teach students the importance of education, nutrition and exercise, renewing the team’s commitment to support youth charitable causes throughout the Bay Area.
SOURCE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media