Led by Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and Buccaneers players Gerald McCoy and Brandon Myers, children's excitement filled the air at Lanier Elementary School in South Tampa as students followed the lead of their favorite team on hand for a special lesson on health and nutrition.
"You are all full of potential," said McCoy in front of dozens of students and teachers. "But, if you want to be a healthy citizen, a strong Buccaneers player, a doctor, or whatever you want to be, it all starts with a healthy diet!"
Students cheered for "Fruits!" and "Vegetables!" in response to McCoy, part of a Buccaneers and UnitedHealthcare contingent installing Learning Gardens at 10 Buccaneers Academy schools throughout Tampa on Tuesday. An initiative started three years ago, the Learning Gardens allow students to grow, cultivate and harvest produce on their campuses while learning lessons of hard work and responsibility.
Following the day's events, the program has installed 110 Learning Gardens throughout the 24 Buccaneers Academies, impacting over 14,000 youth in the area.
"Healthy nutrition, healthy eating – it's important to the players and we want it to be important to the kids, too," said Glazer Kassewitz. "Bringing the Buccaneers here, they are our leaders so the kids will look at them and know that they eat healthy and the kids will want to eat healthy, too."
Through the heat, hard work, and even some rain, there were smiles and laughs to spare as students, teachers, and volunteers worked side by side to plant each Garden.
Like the Buccaneers Academy shade-covered Fitness Zones, standing tall to provide students with a safe place to play, these Gardens also served as a reminder that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Glazer family are devoted to youth development throughout the Tampa community.
"When I was growing up, I was always taught that my siblings and I were old enough and smart enough to start working on our dreams," said Glazer Kassewitz. "So whatever it is that you want to accomplish in life, you don't have to wait. You can start working on it now and that is really what the Buccaneers Academies are founded on."