DeLISLE -- About 200 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at DeLisle Elementary School were allowed to miss afternoon classes Wednesday. But that doesn't mean the got to kick back and take it easy. They spent the time learning to tackle and throw a football with some of the New Orleans Saints training staff.
DeLisle is one of several South Mississippi schools that has participated in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, an initiative aimed at getting students healthier through nutritional incentives and physical activity.
It is sponsored by the NFL and the Southeast United Dairy Association.
"This is a reward for us participating in the program and receiving the Touchdown-status school," physical education teacher Curtis Cotton said.
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He said the school was rewarded for increasing its participation in breakfast and emphasizing the importance of daily physical activity.
"We're fueling up with breakfast and then we are moving for 60 minutes," Cotton said. "We are also trying to get kids to be more active in the community and to teach them leadership skills."
The healthier habits, he said, have made a noticeable difference.
"Since we've started doing this, attendance is way better and we have a positive behavior climate in the school -- and because they are eating better, they are wanting to participate in class more often," Cotton said.
He said the school has been twice recognized for its efforts but this was its first year to host the junior training camp.
The students participated in several football mini-camps that emphasized running, coordination and passing. Gumbo, the team's Saint Bernard mascot, was also on hand to encourage the students.
Allie Purchner, 8, is a third-grader. Although her favorite player, Drew Brees, was not at the training camp, she said she was excited to be a participant.
"I hope I get to throw the football," she said. "I'm also excited that Gumbo is here."