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Reds open ballpark to PLAY Campaign's baseball clinic

Reds open ballpark to PLAY Campaign's baseball clinic

CINCINNATI -- Sixty kids from the Cincinnati area got a chance to experience a piece of life as a Red on Monday as part of the PLAY Campaign's baseball clinic at Great American Ball Park.

In conjunction with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), members of the Reds' strength and conditioning staff gathered to help educate the kids youth about the importance of activity and healthy nutrition.

The days' events included four stations set up in the outfield, and included activities like warmup drills, stretching techniques, proper nutrition advice and information on steroid use.

The kids also got a special appearance from Reds outfielder Chris Heisey, who arrived Monday morning on the heels of playing a full nine-inning Sunday Night Baseball game the day before.

Heisey made his rounds throughout the stations, giving pointers, tips and high fives, and even taught the kids how to properly rob a home run ball off the outfield wall.

"I actually was three years into my elementary education degree, so I've always had a passion for kids," Heisey said. "I was going to be a teacher if I wasn't playing baseball. Any time I get a chance to do a clinic or come out here and work out with some kids, it's a joy, and I really have fun doing it."

The kids also got a chance to ask Heisey some questions during a Q&A session, and received some autographs to take home.

Hesiey joined Reds head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, assistant athletic trainer Steve Baumann, assistant athletic trainer Tomas Vera and strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Krause for the mornings' activities.

"Any time that we have the opportunity to get the kids and the coaches ... onto the field to hear this sort of message from the training professionals, and to spend a little time with one of our players, it's gold," said Charley Frank, executive director of the Reds Community Fund. "These opportunities to actually get on the field are so rare. To have 60 kids and to have the training staff so engaged, it gives us a tremendous resource in order stay connected."

PLAY, or Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, started in 2004, and has visited every Major League ballpark to emphasize healthy and active lifestyles. They have teamed up with the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which is a group aiming to educate children about the dangers associated with steroid abuse.

"The parents take away the most from the steroid talks," said Sam Radbil, PLAY campaign director. "But the kids light up when they get to be out at the park with the players. A big part of it is being out on the field."

The PLAY Campaign runs through the end of August, visiting all 30 MLB stadiums along with 10 other Minor League parks.

Mark Clements is an associate reporter for
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Chris Heisey