Graham Gano visits Lebanon Road Elementary gardens

Students at Lebanon Road Elementary had special visitors to their school gardens on March 2: Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano and dairy farmer Roddy Purser.

The school was selected for a special Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant for their efforts to empower students in creating a healthy school environment. In December, Gano joined students in a visit to Purser's White Rock Dairy Farm in Peachland, N.C. to learn more about farming and healthy eating. Students showed off herbs, vegetables and flowers in eleven raised garden beds. After the tour they enjoyed lunch using produce from the gardens.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is the nation's largest in-school wellness and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League. More than 74,000 schools nationwide, with more than 11.5 million students participate in the program.  The program encourages students to make a difference in their school environment by consuming nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and getting active for at least 60 minutes a day.

"It is really exciting to be here with these kids," said Gano. "I looked up to football and soccer players when I was a kid and giving back was really important."

Gano was impressed with the farm tour and the student gardens. "Nutrition and eating healthy are so important," he said. "Learning where food comes from is critical to eating healthy."

Principal Janelle Styons said that having Gano visit was encouraging for her students. "To have adults come here and care about what we are doing is so important," she said. "Of course, high profile adults like a Panther create more excitement. They are so proud of their garden and what they've accomplished."