Sands.jpegNorthwestern fencer Charlotte Sands (left) spent the morning of February 13 with students at River Trails Middle School in Mount Prospect, Illinois, where she encouraged the children to exercise and eat healthy.


The event was part of a national initiative, Fuel Up to Play 60, that encourages children to develop healthy lifestyles.


"Keep trying to find something that you like, something that will keep you active," Sands told the children, who packed the school's gym.


Sands, a junior from New York City, discussed the importance of a balanced meal that should include protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. She also reminded the students to  "drink water and milk."


Sands, who has consistently won her events in foil and has helped the Wildcats to a No. 7 national ranking this season, inspired the kids to not be afraid to keep trying. "Keep doing things that make you comfortable," she told them. "I was not great at a lot of sports, but I kept trying and enjoying a lot of them."


After addressing the crowd of students, teachers, staff and representatives from the Midwest Dairy Council, Sands led by example as she danced, jumped and stretched with the children, even pounding sticks on an exercise ball atop a bucket. Sands excitedly beat on the improvised drum, exhibiting her agility as a fencer.


Fuel Up To Play 60 is an in-school wellness program launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Illinois, local support comes from the Wildcats, the Midwest Dairy Council and the Chicago Bears.


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