When the Ravens host an event that involves competitive school-yard games, it is hard to figure out who is having more fun – the children or the Raven players. The rules of age go out the window, and players find themselves in highly competitive games from their childhood, like kickball, freeze tag and four square.
This past Community Monday at Utz Field in Patterson Park, over 300 children from various Baltimore City after-school programs participated in the Ravens' inaugural PLAY 60 Festival. Under the instruction of USA Football Master Trainer Tom LaNeve and Playworks Maryland, the students were led through football drills and various recess games.
Several Ravens rookies, Ravens cheerleaders and mascot Poe, all showed up to support the team's initiative and joined everyone for a fun evening of running through different activity stations.
Even Ravens' third-round draft pick Bronson Kaufusi, who despite rehabbing from an injury, still showed up to support the event in a boot and on a scooter! Though he was limited from participating, that didn't stop him from interacting with children as they rotated through the activities.
"I was one of these kids. We all were," Kafusi said. "By coming out here today I wanted to show support and show the kids that you have to get outside and stay active, regardless of anything. Nothing can stop you – I can wheel this scooter up and down hills if I have to!"
Additional Ravens' rookies included Maurice Canady, Chris Moore, Keenan Reynolds, Matt Skura and Tavon Young.
"I am super competitive and it is a lot of fun to be out here today," Moore explained. "Events like this are what got me into sports and football, so I know how important is it."
Even though his favorite recess game growing up was kickball, Moore mentioned the Playworks game Switch, when asked which activity he had most fun at during the PLAY 60 Festival. Much like four-square, Switch is a Playworks favorite and involves five players at a time with each player occupying the four corners and the middle of the square. Play begins when the person in the middle says "Switch" and all players must find a new corner to occupy without going to the middle. If two players arrive at the same corner at the same time, Ro-Sham-Bo, otherwise known as Rock-Paper-Scissors, is played to determine who gets to stay in play.
The festival kicked off the Ravens 2016 PLAY 60 Challenge, created in partnership with the American Heart Association, which encourages local students to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day over a four-week, incentive-based period.
During a special pre-game ceremony at the Ravens vs. Raiders (Oct. 2) game, 11 Baltimore-area students will be recognized as Ravens PLAY 60 ambassadors for their commitment to practicing healthy habits, exercising daily and for stepping up in their schools to help lead fellow students in the challenge.
Through the PLAY 60 Festival and PLAY 60 Challenge, the Ravens hope to inspire today's youth to stay active by showing them creative and fun ways to get outside and play and remind them that you are never too old for recess games.