How Fuel Up to Play 60 Changed My Life

Two years ago, my family moved to Houston from Plano, Texas, where we had lived for the past 11 years. I wasn’t very happy with all the changes, and I certainly wasn’t excited to attend a new school.

As the new kid, I didn’t really try to make new friends or stand out. I didn’t speak up or talk to others about my ideas. I mostly kept to myself and tried not to make an impression because I wasn’t in the mood to invest any effort to integrate myself into this new environment.

Then that my outdoor education teacher introduced the class to Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) – or what I thought was just another program that recited the same sayings: eat well and exercise. I was skeptical, but I followed along and started to get interested in some of the different activities that the program included, like “plays” ranging from flag football to a cook-off, taste tests and even creating initiatives at the school level to influence real, positive change.

As we participated in more and more plays, I saw myself engaging with my fellow classmates, learning their names and, most importantly, learning to work together. This is what kept me hooked on Fuel Up to Play 60; the way that we, the students, could engage in educational, helpful and fun activities in ways that connected us, not just to each other, but to our school and community.

In fun and interactive ways, FUTP 60 gave my fellow classmates and me the opportunity to learn and cultivate leadership skills – such as effectively communicating with a team, efficiently working with others, and understanding how to lead and manage a group. All of this has greatly contributed to my confidence and has boosted my motivation to make a positive impact. My mindset has revolutionized from once wanting to stay in the pack to, now, wanting to rise and work hard to make positive change – not just for me, but for my fellow students and friends in my school and community.

Additionally, FUTP 60 has also made many wonderful opportunities available for me. One of the most important was the opportunity to be the Texas State Ambassador for the 2018-19 school year. As state ambassador, I had the opportunity to shape my ideas and share them with fellow ambassadors across the nation as well as hear some of their wonderful insights at the Fuel Up to Play 60 2018 National Student Ambassador Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. It was an amazing, mind-opening and illuminative experience which inspired me to start a new project in my school: Shared Table.

The idea of Shared Table is to get the food that is not consumed during breakfast and lunch redistributed to carts situated at different locations within the school. In this way, food that is untouched and fresh is not wasted, and it’s easily made available to any student who wants a snack. To maximize student engagement, it is accessible all day, across three different locations, for all students in my school. With this, food waste is reduced, and we’re able to make accessible a nutritious snack to students who may need it.

A year after being state ambassador, I have become a Youth Council Member for Fuel Up to Play 60 – which is the student organization within the program where members are able to contribute, plan and execute many of the program activities, particularly during the summits. The skills and the confidence I have acquired have also allowed me to participate in other engagements, from presenting the program in local schools to sharing my experience at major events where I’m honored to be the voice of my generation.

With all of this, I can say without fear of exaggeration that Fuel Up to Play 60 has given a new meaning to my future. It has exposed me to different industries, professionals and opportunities which has opened my mind to a broader horizon. But most importantly, Fuel Up to Play 60 has given me a new understanding of my capabilities and how ideas and dreams paired with hard work can result in good things. Thanks to FUTP 60, I’m excited to make good things happen and eager to continue creating new opportunities for me and my community.

Learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60

By Jimena T.

Jimena is a student ambassador with the National Football League and National Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) Program empowering student leaders to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Jimena plays an active role in sharing the benefits of the FUTP 60 Program and inspiring youth to eat healthier, move more and create positive change in their school and community. When she wrote this, Jimena was a junior in high school and living in Houston, TX. She serves as a Youth Council Member for the National FUTP 60 student organization.