ATL Falcons players, coaches host safety clinic for young athletes

ATL Falcons players, coaches host safety clinic for young athletes

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Local kids hit the gridiron to learn some football from the very best - including a pro born and raised in Columbus.

The Atlanta Falcons, in partnership with the Kids & Pros safety program, held a youth football camp Wednesday night, from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.

The warm afternoon did not stop around 300 local kids from coming out and learning everything and anything they could from the pros.

The Atlanta Falcons have partnered with Atlanta-based Kids & Pros to host several football safety clinics for young players and parents throughout the year.

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Philip Wheeler, who graduated from Shaw High School in Columbus, said he wanted to let kids know they can use football as a lifestyle to achieve any and all goals, whether in the classroom or in their future careers.

"Use it to maybe get to where you want to be in life," said Wheeler, who is a 9-year NFL veteran. "Not everybody goes to the NFL. I was fortunate to do so, and that's not always the case, but use football to maybe get into college, to do well in high school, as a motivation... just use it."

Buddy Curry, the founder of Kids & Pros and former Atlanta Falcons player, says these clinics are for more than just teaching football skills - they're about giving kids and parents a set of principles to overcome adversity and the challenges of day to day life.

"If parents would use football for their advantage, in terms of helping their kids, make sure that they are focused on their education," Curry said. "Make sure that they're good people, and the football principles it engenders helps you learn and understand how life works."

Other coaches who volunteered for the clinic said they want to teach the kids the proper and legal way to play, as the NFL has faced mounting pressure to add safety protocols and harsher rules to avoid concussions and other health issues.

Thursday's clinic won't be the last time Kids & Pros program sets up shop here in the Fountain City.

Clinic organizers have said they plan to host a total of 16 clinics throughout the year at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.

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