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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Lara Steele, 12, goes out to catch a pass from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck at Change the Play camp Monday morning at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Andrew Luck high-fives a camper at Change the Play camp, which is designed to teach kids how to make good decisions about nutrition and exercise.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 1:00 am

Luck's message to kids: Go out, play

Colts QB traveling state, encouraging youngsters

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

It has become part of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's routine in June over the last four years – to be the face of the Change the Play camp sponsored by the Colts and Riley Hospital for Children.

Monday's camp at Saint Francis' Bishop D'Arcy Stadium was the first of three in the state with Evansville today and Indianapolis on Wednesday.

“It does feel like it's part of the normal schedule, normal rhythm and normal routine, and it's exciting,” Luck said. “This is our third year at Saint Francis, fourth year in Fort Wayne. I really have a blast at these camps.

“Riley does a great job. As I understand, we have some challenges in the state as far as childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and I think Riley recognizes that and tries to be proactive.”

Indiana is the 10th most obese state in the nation, a statistic that includes children. Nationally, 1 in 3 kids is overweight or obese, which raises the risk for conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Luck said he hopes he can have a positive impact on the young campers.

“Hopefully they can take charge of their own health,” he said. “I try to impart some lessons on eating a nice diverse range of fruits and vegetables and grains, encouraging kids to go out and play and not spend eight hours looking at a screen all day.”

With help from volunteers and athletes from Saint Francis, Luck strives to make the camp an enjoyable experience.

“To get those messages across, you have to have fun,” he said.

The camp included activity stations such as jump roping, running drills and catching a pass from Luck himself.

“I'm not a fan of the Colts, but I can't believe I'm with Andrew Luck right now,” said Kael Hunter, 11. “I think (the camp is) really good. I think I'm glad to have this opportunity with Andrew Luck.”

Kael has firsthand experience with Riley Hospital for Children.

“I was 16 months when I went to Riley Hospital,” he said. “ I had a couple surgeries. ... I'm just really happy to have this opportunity.”

Luck, who grew up as a multisport athlete, continues to realize the impact he has on the kids. And, with the Colts' platform, the feeling between Luck and Riley is mutual.

“Andrew lives this every day, and that's why he's such a great partner and such a great spokesperson,” said Dr. Paul Haut, chief operating officer at Riley. “He talks about how his parents taught them to play all kinds of sports, not focus on only one thing. They had to live a healthy lifestyle. He carries that through today, and that's why he's so successful.”

Even at age 28, Luck admits he's still learning about his health, particularly in the last two years when he's battled a shoulder injury to his throwing arm that required surgery. 

Luck missed more than half of the 2015 season, started 15 games in 2016 and then missed the 2017 season.

“You have to be nice to your body,” he said. “You have to be patient, it'll adapt.”

The initiative's Kids Club includes a membership kit, monthly emails with video messages from Luck and kid-friendly activities and recipes aimed to keep kids excited about health.

To join the club, go to RileyChildrens.org/changetheplay.

areichel@jg.net