Several NFL players – including Giants Chris Canty, Michael Boley, Andre Brown, Adrian Tracy and Clint Sintim – were at George Washington High School in Washington Heights Thursday morning, hosting a clinic for youth league football players. The event, organized by the Chris Canty Foundation, United Way of New York City and the Police Athletic League, hosted over 300 children.
"It’s a great feeling to be able to come back to where it all started for me and be able to serve my community,” said Canty, who grew up in Co-op City, about 10 miles from Washington Heights.
“I take it as, ‘If I have the ability to make a difference in the kids’ lives, then I also have the responsibility to do it.’ I can relate to these kids and thinking back, I would’ve died to have an NFL player come out and coach me for a few hours.”
Jennifer Jones Austin, senior VP of United Way
“Being here and seeing the children – as many as 325, I’m told – is exciting. They’re excited to be here with their NFL role models and idols, and you can see them just light up when the players talk to them and work with them. This day, even though the event is going to be brief, will have a lasting impact on their lives. To know that these people gave their time to be with them to support and encourage them, it makes me happy.”
What’s the crux of the message being delivered to the children? “The message we want the kids to walk away with is respecting yourself and others; having a good work ethic, learning how to communicate well and, essentially, being the best person you can be.”
Are children more receptive to such a message if it comes from a pro athlete? “When NFL stars stand before you and say, ‘I care about you and I want you to succeed,’ they listen. When people who have proven themselves come in, a Giants Super Bowl champion, and says this is what you need to be a winner in life, the kids are paying attention. It’s important for children to know that people care about them – besides the people in their own home.”
Joe Canty, Jr., Chris' older brother, who helps run the Chris Canty Foundation
The event: “It’s a humbling experience as an older brother to see your younger sibling go beyond what your expectations were for him growing up... It's a fun event and I think it's wonderful what they're doing for the kids.”
Chris winning a Super Bowl: “It means the world to see your sibling reach the pinnacle of his sports. I’ve seen 25 years of hard work and playing sports, and him achieving that, it’s special.”
Alana Sweeny, Police Athletic League executive director
Having 25 NFL players show up to the event: “It means that these are people who care about kids and aren’t into their stardom. They’re on vacation now. They could be doing other things, but they choose to come and spend time with the kids. They’re giving them an experience that’s unforgettable. A lot of our PAL kids live in the poorest, highest crime areas in the city. For them to be able to see a celebrity in person, not only is great for self-esteem, but they know they’re real people and they, too, can aspire to do great things.
"They don’t see people who have star status in their communities. It tells them, ‘You know what, I’m really worth it. These people care about me.’”