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Pirates PLAY clinic shares positive messages with kids

PLAY, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, is a national public awareness campaign conducted by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society in conjunction with Major League Baseball Charities and the Taylor Hooton Foundation.

During the 2017 baseball season, the PLAY campaign held events at all 30 Major-League ballparks in an effort to educate America's young people about the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle and disability inclusion. Its stop at PNC Park came on July 18.

That morning, Head Athletic Trainer Todd Tomczyk. Assistant Athletic Trainer Ben Potenziano, and Sports Science Coordinator Brendon Huttman of the Pirates joined representatives of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, Ruderman Family Foundation and National Down Syndrome Society for a presentation to a group of young people. The program, which ran for approximately two hours, rotated the kids through a series of stations where topics such as healthy eating, injury prevention, strength and conditioning, and the dangers of illegal performance- and appearance-enhancing drugs.

Tony Watson, who represented the Pirates on the Taylor Hooton Foundation advisory board before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in late July, was also involved with the clinic.

"The PLAY program reaches out to thousands of children with positive messages about making smart life choices, living a more active lifestyle, and promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of life," Tomczyk said. "The clinic is also an opportunity for these kids to get on a major-league field and roam the grass like Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and their other favorite Pirates do. It's an amazing opportunity to share.

"Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth doesn't just mean you have to play baseball. Just go out and be active. Go play frisbee, play basketball, swim, jog. That's a big part of the message that we want to get out. In Major League Baseball and as trainers, strength coaches and physical therapists we have a tremendous platform to continue to drive that message."

"The Pirates always do one of the best PLAY events that we attend," said Donald Hooton Jr. of the Taylor Hooton Foundation. "From the minute you walk into PNC Park, Todd and his staff make you feel like you're a part of the organization. They make you feel so welcome, and the program couldn't have gone any better."

Since 2004, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society has conducted more than 300 PLAY clinics at big-league ballparks, reaching tens of thousands of young people with its positive messages. In 2014, the campaign became the first program in professional sports to include children with disabilities. PLAY is made possible by the support and participation of the Ruderman Family Foundation, Major League Baseball Charities, the Taylor Hooton Foundation, and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

For more information, please visit www.PBATS.com.

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