The NFL, USA Football, youth fundraising network GENYOUth and in-school nutrition program Fuel Up to Play 60, have announced the expansion of the NFL FLAG-In-Schools Program, which aims to increase physical activity of youth by providing flag football resources to underserved communities.

Since 2014, the partners’ efforts have resulted in 4.3 million students becoming more active before, during and after school through NFL FLAG-In-Schools. This year, NFL FLAG Kits will be distributed to an additional 4,700 schools nationwide, reaching approximately 2.6 million new students. The expansion was made possible by a renewed commitment from the NFL Foundation, amounting to nearly $1.5 million.

“Football is a fun and engaging sport that teaches participants valuable life lessons both on and off field. We are excited to expand the NFL FLAG-in-Schools program and offer more kids the opportunity to get involved in the sport and have fun,” said NFL Vice President of Youth and High School Football ROMAN OBEN. “This partnership provides much-needed resources to schools throughout the country to sustain their physical activity programs and positively impact students’ health and wellness.”

NFL FLAG-in Schools Kits will be provided to 4,700 schools at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The kits include footballs, flag belts, kicking tees, posters and a physical education (PE) curriculum designed by SHAPE America for elementary and middle school students, to get active and learn the basics of football in a fun environment.

The program has seen notable success since its inception in 2014. Seventy-one percent of the schools receiving kits are high-need schools: 40% or more of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Ninety-eight percent of teachers reported using the kits in their PE class with nearly half (47%) also using them after school. Earlier this year, PE teachers who previously received NFL FLAG-In-Schools Kits participated in a Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisors’ focus group and reported the following benefits:

  • Participants reported using NFL FLAG-In-Schools Kits in PE class, at recess, in intramurals, in tournaments, before and after school and in Fuel Up to Play 60 events;
  • The program has significantly increased PE teachers’ confidence and ability to teach/coach flag football;
  • Participants overwhelmingly felt their FLAG-In-Schools programs were successful – citing student enthusiasm for the game, especially girls’ interest in the game, older students’ willingness to teach younger students how to play and flag football’s increasing popularity over other sports as reasons for the success; and
  • Participants representing a variety of school sizes unanimously reported that all of their PE students participate in FLAG-In-Schools, adding that a sizable amount of interest among students was generated by intramural play and recess play

Additionally, schools report that the program has helped them to increase female students’ participation in physical activity at school. In fact, NFL FLAG-In-Schools sparked such an interest in Miami-Dade County Public Schools that the district developed 50 new varsity middle school girls flag leagues with 1,100 girls now playing varsity flag football. This is a key advantage, given a 2016 study by Tufts University School of Medicine and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, which showed that girls are at greater risk than boys of falling short of in-school physical activity recommendations.