The MAAC's "Gives Back" program will include a physical fitness/healthy lifestyle challege this season in which students from Springfield, Mass., area schools can earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award as well as tickets and transportation to Monday's women's championship game at the MassMutual Center.
Here's the press release, as issued by the conference:
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s “Gives Back” program will give students in the Springfield, MA area a chance to connect to the conference and attend its post-season basketball tournament through a healthy lifestyle challenge.
The MAAC has joined forces with President’s Challenge program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition to offer students from around the city known as the “Birthplace of Basketball” an opportunity to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA).
The PALA+ Challenge, a supported by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, requires students to participate in a six-week program designed to facilitate more physical activity and better and healthier eating habits.
Students who complete the program will qualify to be part of the “Bus Brigade” that will bring them to the women’s conference tournament championship game on Monday, March 6 at noon.
“We always strive to create a connection between the league and students in the area that hosts the tournament,” said Meghan Bertovich, the conference’s assistant commissioner for women’s basketball operations.
The “MAAC Gives Back” program traditionally provides curriculum in which students learn and sharpen math, science and history skills through lessons associated with basketball. This year, though, the program has added the healthy lifestyle component.
The PALA challenge requires students to not only participate in a physical activity for at least 60 minutes five days for six weeks, but also encourages students to eat healthy food, including fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken.
Matt Hollander, the general manager of the MassMutual Center, the venue for this year’s MAAC tournament, organized the program, which students from elementary through high school are eligible. Hollander also serves as the chairman of the tournament’s educational committee, which oversees the program.
In all 1,043 students signed up for the challenge and those who complete it not only get free admission and transportation via the Bus Brigade to the women’s championship contest but also a certificate signed by President Barack Obama to commemorate their achievement.
“The area students are very excited about the challenge,” said Bertovich. “They’ll also get to witness a ceremonial tip-off that will feature WWE wrestling star David Otunga.”
The program is designed to get youth to commit to daily physical activity and to stick with it, while also making healthier eating habits for a lifetime.
Almost every type of physical activity is allowed, including playing sports, walking the dog, running with your family, and even gardening in the yard, all while fueling one’s body with nutritious foods.
Through the MAAC Gives Back campaign, participants receive a Presidential certificate, a trip to the MAAC tournament for the women’s championship game and, hopefully, the beginning of an active and healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime.