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Friday, April 23, 2010

Wheatley Elementary School students hang out with Apolo Anton Ohno and Dara Torres, learn about healthy living

When it comes to living healthy lifestyles, few are better than Apolo Anton Ohno and Dara Torres. Ohno is the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian, and owes many of his eight medals to following an extremely strict diet and workout routine. And there is no way Torres, who has won 12 medals, could have become the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympics if she wasn't in tip-top shape.

So when 16 students from Wheatley Elementary School -- many of them DC SCORES poet-athletes -- attended an event Thursday promoting saying "yes" to a healthy lifestyle and "no" to underage drinking, it was only appropriate that Ohno and Torres delivered the strongest messages to an audience of 600. Torres talked about the importance of role models while Ohno implored the large group of captivated students to choose a positive, healthy direction in life.

The event -- held at the Cannon House Office Building -- was put together by The Century Council, The National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation, and PE4life. And it was a treat for the Wheatley students, who had a blast playing the new Ask, Listen, Learn Team interactive game.

The game is a great way to get exercise in the classroom, as the participant steps up and down in place -- as quickly as possible -- to try to accumulate a large number of steps while performing positive tasks like picking up trash. Then the player is asked a question about topics such as the effects of alcohol on one's body, the basics of good nutrition, and the impact of athletics on students. By answering the questions, students learn a lot about healthy living while getting exercise.

Wheatley's crew got a great midday workout playing the game, and then it was time, finally, to meet the stars. Bryan Namoff of D.C. United signed the students' T-shirts and other items. Then, clad in their purple team T-shirts that made them easily stand out in the packed caucus room, the students lined up to meet Ohno.

The Wheatley students posed for a group picture with him on stage and then individually got their paraphernalia signed -- many of them with wide grins on their faces.

Upon leaving the event, the students expressed how much they'd enjoyed not only the pictures and autographs, but playing the fitness-oriented game and learning about the dangers of alcohol and how to live healthy.

It was a star-studded afternoon for sure, but also an educational experience for a group of excited DC SCORES participants.

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