Padres host PLAY Campaign event at Petco

Richard, training staff educate children on staying active, making healthy lifestyle choices

August 16th, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- The energy was up early at Petco Park on Thursday morning as members of the Padres' training staff teamed up with the PLAY Campaign and multiple other organizations to host a youth event promoting activeness and involvement.

The PLAY Campaign -- designed in 2004 to promote healthy lifestyle choices and the inclusion of disabilities -- made its annual stop in San Diego and teamed up with the Padres' training staff, the Ruderman Family Foundation, the National Down Syndrome Society, the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. In 2014, PLAY became the first program in professional sports to include children with disabilities.

Since its founding nearly 15 years ago, PLAY has conducted more than 300 events. The group formed in partnership with the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, hoping to highlight the dangers of poor health habits and childhood obesity.

Dozens of children from all ages participated in the event, which opened with remarks from the Padres' training staff regarding healthy eating choices, the importance of taking care of your body and the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. The participants then spent the next few hours at different stations designed to promote exercise. Stations included relay races, obstacle courses, baseball fundamentals such as throwing and catching, and a game using plastic balls and bats.

"[We] bring a lot of what we do -- the messaging, information and some of the education we provide our players -- to the rest of our communities," said Padres head trainer Mark Rogow. "It really doesn't matter how old they are, if they're really active, not so active, or they're disabled. We feel like we have something we can bring to everyone. It's awfully nice to spend quality time with them at our home, our ballpark, and bring them on the field to show them what it's like to be active, and why you should stay active and have a healthy lifestyle."

The morning was highlighted by an appearance from Padres pitcher , who is a member of the Taylor Hooton Foundation advisory board. The Taylor Hooton Foundation is designed to educate young athletes about the dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Richard spoke to the participants and their parents about the importance of staying active and busy in their youth, stressing that the lessons they learn through being a part of an organization can stay with them for life.

"With school, athletics or music -- if you learn a work ethic through those, that's going to carry over to whatever [you] want to do," Richard said. "That's the beautiful thing about youth athletics, is establishing a work ethic and seeing that hard work makes you better, and realizing that transfers into life."

Richard capped off the event by signing autographs and taking photos with every participant in attendance.

"Staying active for as long as they can, it's a huge advantage for the rest of your life," he said.