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Turco, NHL help kick off VERB campaign

Wednesday, 03.03.2004 / 12:00 AM / News
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Turco, NHL help kick off VERB campaign



March 3, 2004

By J. Douglas Foster

Lane Pate
Marty Turco could very well run for Mayor of Dallas.

He just might win.

"I think I'm active enough to win," he joked Tuesday.

Actually, he may be. One of the Stars' most active participants in programs that give back to the community did so again this week, serving as the team's and NHL's spokesman as they kicked off a partnership with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the national VERB campaign, to promote youth physical activity.

After all, "VERB" is an action, and action is what Turco, the NHL and the CDC are trying to promote from the youth in today's "Playstation" culture.

"Get active, stay active and live your life as an active participant," said Alysse Soll, the vice president of fan development for the National Hockey League at the announcement of this partnership Tuesday afternoon at the Samuel Grand Recreation Center on East Grand Avenue in Dallas.

The event included Turco, broadcaster Ralph Strangis and team president Jim Lites from the Stars' organization, along with representatives of the CDC, VERB and the NHL and several Dallas students who live in the area of the Grand Recreation Center. Many of those students fall into the age category of "tweens," a word used to describe children at that very important age level between 9 and 13-years-old.

Students in those age groups, all said, are often the first to be exposed to common distractions that can keep them away from an active lifestyle. It is usually during this stage of life where children become attached to televisions, computers and video games.

That's the reason this age group is targeted by the VERB campaign.

"We can't get mad at kids who make decisions that don't lead to active lifestyles," Turco said. "We've got to help put them in situations where they can be active and where they will also have fun, because that's what matters most to kids is having fun. If we can keep them active in ways they will have fun, we'll accomplish what we want to accomplish."

Tuesday's announcement also helped tie the CDC and the VERB campaign in with NHL Street, the league's street hockey promotion and the cornerstone of its grass-roots effort to expose the game to youth during the last decade. During the now 11 years of the program, NHL street has introduced the game to more than 1 million kids, including substantial increases among girls and multi-cultural participants. In fact, participation among girls has increased 700 percent, growing from three percent to 24 percent of the current players nationwide, and multi-cultural participation is up 1,766 percent, from three percent to 56 percent of the players. This year, NHL Street will reach approximately 250,000 youngsters in 1,600 schools and community centers across 55 North American cities.

Turco and former Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig even held an NHL street clinic and scrimmage with the children in attendance Tuesday, hopefully sparking interest in that form of the game at the same time.

And that's been one of the Stars' goals from the outset, ever since they arrived in Dallas in 1993 and helped launch NHL Street at the very same recreation center.

"Marty jumped at the chance to be a part of this," Lites said. "And we've always been very active in the community as an organization. We want to keep that going."

They continue to do so, getting across their love for the game along with CDC and the NHL's message of getting kids active for a more healthy lifestyle. After all, that's the name of the game with VERB, said Faye Wong, director of the campaign.

"Every child should find the verb they love and get active doing it," she said.

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