Lighthouse School wins NFL PLAY 60 grant, visit from Vikings players

Spring Lake Park’s Lighthouse School is one of 34 in the nation to receive the National Football League’s PLAY 60 Super School grant this year.

The grant comes with a $10,000 check to be spent on physical education equipment and programming, as well as a visit from local NFL players.

Third-grader Lily Magstadt is ecstatic to welcome the Vikings Dec. 10. Photo by Olivia Koester

Third-grader Lily Magstadt is ecstatic to welcome the Vikings Dec. 10. Photo by Olivia Koester

Two Minnesota Vikings – Joe Berger, #61, and Charlie Johnson, #74 – visited Lighthouse students Dec. 10 to talk about the PLAY 60 initiative and exercise with the kids.

Viktor, the Vikings mascot, and two Vikings cheerleaders also made appearances and were very popular with the students.

Lighthouse School – an institution designed for gifted learners in first through 12th grades, housed within Spring Lake Park High School – will use the money to purchase equipment for activities to which kids may never have been exposed, according to Mindy Daugherty, the physical education teacher at the school. Daugherty wrote the PLAY 60 grant on behalf of Lighthouse.

She’s toying with the idea of purchasing snowshoes, introducing the kids to one way they can keep active in the winter.

Activity is PLAY 60’s mission.

“It’s a pretty simple message, just to be active 60 minutes a day,” said Brad Madson, executive director of community relations for the Vikings.

PLAY 60 started six years ago when the league identified obesity as a national problem and wanted to motivate kids to get up and move, he said.

It’s a cause Berger supports. He said that it can be easy to get caught up with electronics today, so “it’s important to get kids outside, get them active.”

Though windchill prevented any outdoor activity Tuesday, the gym was set up for more than half of Lighthouse’s 88 students to work out with the Vikings, Viktor and the cheerleaders.

Five stations had students jump roping, performing sit ups and push ups, lifting weights, weaving in and out of cones and relay racing.

Before breaking a sweat with the Vikings, students had the opportunity to ask the Vikings questions. One student asked about Berger’s and Johnson’s favorite foods and favorite school subjects.

Johnson studied education in college. “When I’m done [playing football], maybe one day I’ll be in Ms. Daugherty’s shoes,” he said.

The Vikings, with Comcast, presented the school with a $10,000 check.

“Today was amazing,” Daugherty said.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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