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Minn. communities, schools seeing benefits of being Super Bowl hosts

Kindergartners at Moorhead (Minn.) Probstfield Elementary School play with an Imagination Playground set in the gymnasium on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The Moorhead School District received a grant of $38,409 from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee to buy six of the sets for its kindergarten through sixth-grade schools. Helmut Schmidt / Forum News Service1 / 2
Kindergartners at Moorhead (Minn.) Probstfield Elementary School play with an Imagination Playground set in the gymnasium on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The Moorhead School District received a grant of $38,409 from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee to buy six of the sets for its kindergarten through sixth-grade schools. Helmut Schmidt / Forum News Service 2 / 2

MOORHEAD, Minn. — While there are still more than 300 days before the Super Bowl is played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, communities and schools across the state are already benefitting as hosts.

Moorhead on Tuesday, March 14, was the latest recipient of two grants — one designed to fund healthy initiatives and the other to promote healthy eating programs in schools. The grants are part of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Legacy Fund's "52 Weeks of Giving" campaign leading up to Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018.

Kindergartners at Probstfield Elementary School in Moorhead got a taste of fun to come by enjoying a light breakfast and time in the gym with an Imagination Playground set as part of the announcement of two grants awarded to the school district.

The district received $38,409 to purchase six Imagination Playground sets for its kindergarten through sixth-grade schools, and a $10,000 Super School Breakfast grant to buy equipment to provide breakfast to students at the Red River Area Learning Center.

"This is our chance to leave a lasting legacy" by improving child health and wellness, said Julia Davis, the legacy and community partnerships manager for the Super Bowl committee.

"It will have a lasting effect that we can enjoy," Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams added, calling the playgrounds "a creative way to keep our kids active."

More than $400,000 in grants have been distributed in the first six weeks of the program, and millions of dollars will be doled out, with 75 percent going to cities and towns outside of the Twin Cities area, said committee spokesman Michael Howard.

Other communities who were among the first recipients of the grants are already discussing how the funds will be outlayed.

In St. Paul, a $100,000 grant awarded in February will go toward retrofitting several tennis courts for a game called sepak takraw, a popular Southeast Asian game also known as kick volleyball. Rochester, a recipient of a $52,000 grant, will use the money for a mobile playground.

In Worthington, Nobles County Community Wellness Partners received a $50,000 grant and county and city leaders are set to announce the specific outlays of that money on March 21.

Steve Robinson, the city administrator in Worthington, said he helped identify the communities needs and the county's health department drafted the proposal for the host committee.

"We had just finished construction on some athletic fields and we needed equipment to compliment that," Robinson said, "and so I presented that an an option they thought that fit well into the goals of the host committee presenting these grants."

Moorhead's grant will go toward Imagination Playground sets, made up of foam blocks that students use to build objects and structures, or to create play scenarios. The sets, usable indoors and out, "promote collaborative, creative and open play," Moorhead Assistant Superintendent Missy Eidsness said.

"It's wonderful," Moorhead School Board member Matt Valan said. "Anytime you can involve kids in a gift like this ... it's great for their self-esteem."

Super School Breakfast is partnered with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program to bring breakfast-in-the-classroom to 52 Minnesota schools. Fuel Up to Play 60 was launched by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It encourages students to eat healthy foods and take part in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

Faribault Middle School was among the first recipients, receiving $10,000. Principal Michael Meihak said the funds will help create a "second-chance breakfast" for students who may have missed a home breakfast to grab something after first period.

"It's awesome," Meihak said of the grant. "It's a great opportunity for our students being able to provide some food service for them that we wouldn't have been able to do without the grant."

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