Fullback Michael Burton is a self-proclaimed Dr. Seuss fan, which made him the ideal volunteer for the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation's Read Across America Day Celebration on Monday.
Burton joined five Redskins Read schools to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday at the team's indoor facility in Ashburn, Virginia. The fun-filled morning included a variety of Dr. Seuss-related activities such as relays, obstacle courses, crafts and more.
"We're out here hanging out with kids, going through stations and learning about Dr. Seuss," Burton said. "Really just having a great time and putting smiles on kids' faces and getting a little exercise."
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation created Redskins Read in an effort to make reading more enjoyable for local elementary school students. The initiative is centered around the Redskins Read playbook, which provides monthly prompts for students to analyze the book of their choice. The program, which runs from September to March, encourages learning via monthly prizes and the chance to host or be invited to a Redskins event.
Monday marked one of the signature events of the Redskins Read Program that schools look forward to all year long.
"It's really important for kids to be able to read and be exposed to different kinds of reading, different books, different genres," said Terry Guiffre, an Instructional Technology Coach at Mountain View Elementary in Haymarket, Virginia. "That way, they can figure out what else is going on in the world for different perspectives, and that helps education."
Five schools participated in the celebration, including three from Virginia (Mountain View, Bucknell Elementary and Lovettsville Elementary) and one each from Maryland (Robert R. Gray Elementary) and Washington D.C. (Garfield Preparatory Academy).
In total, 150 fourth- and fifth-grade students flooded Redskins Park and rotated through five different stations, each of which revolved around a different Dr. Seuss story. They were joined by current players, such as Burton and tight end Hale Hentges, alumni like Bryon Westbrook and Evan Royster and a host of Redskins volunteers -- all of whom understand the importance of early education.
"Those are all messages I try to relate to these kids: read, write, improve your education and use your knowledge," Burton said. "You can accomplish anything you want to accomplish as long as you believe in that, and that's why I'm out here with these kids for a few hours. I just try to push that, and hopefully it hits home with some kids."
Five Redskins Read schools were invited to Redskins Park to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday.The schools rotated through five different stations – each station was themed around a different Dr. Seuss story. The stations included a variety of activities, including relays, obstacle courses and crafts.
Following the final rotation, students congratulated at the center of the field for a cool-down session, closing remarks and a group photo before receiving a catered lunch from Papa John's on the way out.
Then it was back to their respective schools. There's more reading and learning to be done.
"As a former alumni and being a...Redskins Read ambassador, having the Redskins organization pull kids and fitness together is really important," said Guiffre, a former Redskins cheerleader. "It shows that they have community support and that it's important to stay healthy and that it's important to read."