BOSTON -- From on-field clinics to important lessons being given in the dugout, the 2017 National PLAY Campaign's stop at Fenway Park on Tuesday helped spread a message about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to a group of more than 30 boys and girls.The PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime
BOSTON -- From on-field clinics to important lessons being given in the dugout, the 2017 National PLAY Campaign's stop at Fenway Park on Tuesday helped spread a message about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to a group of more than 30 boys and girls.
The PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Campaign is the first program in professional sports to include children with disabilities, and Tuesday's event represented the National Down Syndrome Society with support from the Ruderman Family Foundation.
The morning's festivities began with Brian Parker from the Taylor Hooton Foundation teaching the group about the dangers of performance-enhancing drug use and giving a lesson on how steroids can affect the body.
Chris Sale and Dustin Pedroia are the two Red Sox representatives of the Taylor Hooton Foundation's All Me League, which raises awareness about harmful substances in sports and fitness.
The boys and girls were split into three groups and run through multiple stations hosted by members of Boston's training staff.
After the on-field drills, Justin Hickam from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation spoke to the group about the importance of dental and medical health -- especially the impact brushing your teeth and getting the proper amount of sleep every night has on the body.
Red Sox pitchers Richard Hembree and Brandon Workman spoke to the crowd about their personal journeys to the Majors and how a healthy lifestyle and good education were imperative to them achieving their Major League dreams.
"One of the biggest things for me has always been trying to treat my body right," Workman told the group. "Having good nutrition and workouts to put myself in a good position to be able to perform on the field. I was always making sure that my body is in a good spot through eating good foods, working out and stretching."
"One thing that was always important that allowed me to get here was school," Hembree said. "If I didn't have school, then I wouldn't have been able to make each step to get to college and get the opportunity to get drafted. If I didn't have the grades, then I wouldn't be able to stay on the field."
Hembree stressed that eating well and having good nutrition is the most beneficial thing any boy or girl could do, especially if you want to continue to grow as an athlete.
"At a young age, it's your nutrition that is going to help your overall well-being," Hembree said. "Once you start climbing the ladder and the higher rank you get and the separation between each player is more miniscule, it comes down to what you had for lunch. It comes down to the smallest stuff that will separate each player. Nutrition is a huge part of it, and having energy, getting enough sleep. It plays a very vital role."
PLAY was created in 2004 to raise awareness about children's health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States. The campaign has conducted more than 300 events inside all 30 MLB ballparks, reaching America's youth with positive messages about making healthy decisions and living a more active and healthy lifestyle.
Evan Chronis is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.