“Let’s go Griffins!”
At Wednesday’s Grand Rapids Griffins matinee game, the voices cheering for the home team skewed a little younger than usual as Grand Rapids-area students filed into Van Andel Arena for an 11 a.m. match up between the Griffins and the Toronto Marlies.
Although the Griffins lost 0-4, students attending the game were definitely winners. Not only did the youngsters have a chance to see themselves on the Jumbo-tron, munch on their favorite game day snacks, and cheer on some top-notch hockey players, they spent their morning learning more about how to stay healthy and physically fit.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was the presenting sponsor of the game, with a theme of promoting healthy goals for life. Representatives from the Grand Rapids Fire Department, Operation Save a Life, the American Red Cross, Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) Dental Hygiene program and others were on hand to talk to students about different aspects of their health. Students were encouraged to explore stations on the concourse to learn more about wellness before the game.
Laurie Jenks brought some of her second-grade students from Ellis Elementary School in Belding. She said the field trip gave students a nice break from their everyday and provided a chance for many to see the tall buildings and architecture that grace downtown.
“A lot of these kids have never been to Grand Rapids,” she said.
This is her third year attending the matinee game and while she said most of her charges get excited about the general atmosphere and fun, some important learning happens as well. Jenks said kids can learn a lot about the importance of good nutrition and exercise by watching the real-life athletes on the ice.
“I like watching them get goals,” said Kamron Blau, 7, one of Jenks’ students.
GRCC’s Dental Hygiene students passed out free toothbrushes. Ashley Kolenda and Jean Williams are both second-year students and said the matinee game gave them a new way to spread the word about oral health and the college’s on-campus dental clinic available to the community. A display with the sugar content of popular beverages was hopefully eye-opening for the elementary school kids stopping by, especially when it comes to juice, Kolenda said.
“A lot of kids don’t really think there’s sugar in that,” she explained.
Lt. William Smith with the Grand Rapids Fire Department was getting the word out about the department’s residential safety program. He said the matinee game was a good chance to teach kids about the importance of getting out of their homes quickly in the event of a fire. Smith was also talking to visitors about establishing an emergency evacuation plan.
Check out pictures from the game here, including some of our Zamboni rider, T.J. King, 4.
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Photo credit: Julie Bitely, A Healthier Michigan