By Jack Ryan

The impact of this week’s 2017 NFL draft on Philly’s Ben Franklin Parkway will include many community events planned for draft week.

Today at 12:45 PM, the NFL will join city government, Eagles and the Philly NFL Draft Host Committee at Starr Garden Park to celebrate the beginning of Draft Week.

The NFL Foundation is providing a grant to the School District of Philadelphia to fund flag football programs for local youth athletes. The donation will be used to fund the expansion of flag football and supply key resources and equipment for in-school and after-school programs.

NFL Draft prospects will spend time with pediatric patients and their families and cheer them on while they participate in a PLAY 60 obstacle course at Shriners Hospitals for Children on Wednesday, April 26 at 10 AM. In 2015, the NFL and Shriners Hospitals for Children teamed to create the NFL PLAY 60 All-Ability Guide, which includes adaptive activities to help children with different physical abilities live an active lifestyle.

Character Playbook, a joint initiative of the NFL and United Way Worldwide powered by EverFi, an education technology leader in more than 20,000 schools across the nation, will launch on Wednesday, April 26 at 1 PM at William Ziegler Elementary School (5935 Saul St.).

The digital course uses evidence-based strategies to educate students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships during their critical middle school years. Students will go through the six interactive modules that engage them with true-to-life scenarios including bystander intervention strategies and positive relationship examples. Eagles Legends will then engage in a conversation with students on the importance of character and integrity on and off the field.

On Thursday, April 27, at 11 AM a group of NFL players will visit Children’s Hospital. Players will spend time with patients and take part in games and activity sessions with children and their families.

A group of NFL Draft prospects will lead 100 local children in a youth football clinic on Thursday, April 27 from 9-10 AM. Participants will learn on-field techniques and receive instruction from prospects at various football skills and drills stations, including passing, receiving and agility.

NFL PLAY 60 Clinics, Play Football Field presented by Danimals, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Children from local schools and organizations will take part in private youth football clinics at the Play Football Field presented by Danimals April 27-29. Participants will take part in hour-long PLAY 60 skills and drills sessions, led by USA Football coaches.

Local schools and organizations taking part in the private clinics include:

Cook-Wissahickon School
Hamilton Disston Elementary School
Haverford School
Lewis Elkin Elementary School
Munoz-Marin Luis School
MVP360 Community Programs
Steppingstone Scholars
In addition to these private clinics, thousands of children from the Philadelphia community are invited to take part in public youth football clinics, which will take place at the Play Football Field April 27-29. Parents can register their kids for the free clinics through Fan Mobile Pass – NFL Draft.

NFL PLAY 60 Zone presented by Danimals, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

An interactive area specifically designed for the youngest NFL fans to get active and moving, the NFL PLAY 60 Zone presented by Danimals includes an obstacle course, virtual fitness stations and more. A sampling of attractions include:

NFL PLAY 60 Zone Obstacle Course presented by Campbell’s and SpaghettiOs – Race through agility drills just like the pros. Test your high jump abilities and weave through mini tackling dummies
Kids’ Long Snap – Test the ability to snap the ball like a pro.
Kids’ Quarterback Challenge – Test your passing skills.
Gear Up and Go – Try on NFL equipment and feel what it’s like to gear up for gameday
Kids’ Extra Point Kick – Test your ability to kick a field goal through the uprights.
NFL PLAY 60 App Station – Run, jump and turn through a simulated world in an app designed by NFL PLAY 60 and the American Heart Association.
NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Virtual Field Trip – Take a Virtual Field Trip with the National Football League and the American Heart Association to learn how easy and fun it is to get active and heart healthy.
Special Olympics Unified Flag Football Game and Skills Clinic, Play Football Field presented by Danimals, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The NFL and Special Olympics will host a football skills and drills clinic followed by a Special Olympics Unified Flag Football game featuring Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes on Friday, April 28 from 10:30 AM-12 PM on the Play Football Field presented by Danimals at NFL Draft Experience. Philadelphia Eagles players will lead skills and drills stations and serve as coaches for the game.

In January, the NFL and Special Olympics kicked off their partnership to provide opportunities for athletes of all abilities to ‘PLAY 60’ through the expansion of Special Olympics Unified Flag Football. The partnership leverages the football community to promote awareness, respect and inclusion of Special Olympics athletes amongst NFL players, clubs, supporters and partners.

NFL Draft High School 7-on-7 Tournament

Football players representing 8 local high school teams will participate in a single elimination 7-on-7 tournament on Friday, April 28 from 6 – 8 PM at the South Philadelphia Supersite (2926 S. 10th St). A character development speech led by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver JORDAN MATTHEWS and Philadelphia Eagles Legend JASON AVANT will take place between games at approximately 7 PM

The two remaining teams will face off in the tournament final on Saturday, April 29 from 9 AM – 12 PM at the Play Football Field Presented by Danimals at the NFL Draft Experience. The winning team of the tournament will appear onstage during the Philadelphia Eagles’ Round 7 pick selection at the NFL Draft Theater.

Players from the following high schools will participate:

Downingtown West High School
John Bartram High School
Malvern Preparatory School
Methacton High School
Simon Gratz High School
South Philadelphia High School
St. Joes Preparatory School
West Catholic Preparatory School

NFL Draft Family Football Clinic, Play Football Field presented by Danimals, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The NFL Draft Family Football Clinic will be held on Saturday, April 29 at 9 AM. This event will give local kids an opportunity to participate in a youth football clinic with USA Football coaches while their parents listen to football-themed discussion panels on topics ranging from the X’s and O’s of the game to health and safety, heat and hydration and strength and conditioning. The clinic will include Heads Up Football tackling and blocking drills and conclude with kids and parents taking the field together to participate in side-by-side activities.

Participants will include SAM and WILMA MCNABB, parents of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, and JON RUNYAN, NFL vice president of Football Operations and former Philadelphia Eagles tackle.

Families can register for the free Family Football Clinic through Fan Mobile Pass – NFL Draft.

Fuel Up to Play 60 NFL Draft Ambassadors

ARIANA HINMON and WISDOM AGBEYOME, two local middle school students, will serve as Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassadors and receive a behind-the-scenes experience at the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help encourage kids to lead healthier lives. The experience will include an opportunity to cover the Red Carpet, an exclusive tour of the Draft Theater and access to press conferences with prospects after they’ve been drafted.

NFL Draft Special Guests

The following are unique ways that special guests from several of the NFL’s nonprofit partners will participate in Draft festivities.

MAKE-A-WISH® Pick Announcement

Make-A-Wish recipient TJ ONWUANIBE will have his wish granted when he joins COMMISSIONER GOODELL to announce the Baltimore Ravens Round 1 pick on Thursday, April 27. A football-loving 13-year old, TJ is a cancer survivor and devoted Ravens fan from Laurel, MD.

This is the third wish granted at the NFL Draft since 2010. The NFL and Make-A-Wish have a longstanding partnership and have teamed up to grant hundreds of wishes dating back to the Super Bowl in 1982.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® Pick Announcement

St. Jude patient KATE FOSTER will join COMMISSIONER GOODELL and Chicago Bears Legend JAY HILGENBERG to announce the Bears’ Round 2 pick on Friday, April 28. A competitive gymnast, Kate, 17, from Rockford, IL, lost her left leg to an infection during treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia at age 12 but overcame her illness and returned to the gym less than a year later. Today, she continues to compete around the country and has received national recognition for her leadership, strength and determination, winning the 2016 USA Gymnastics Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame Award.

NFL PLAY 60 is the “official champion of play” at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, helping to give all kids the chance to PLAY 60 and lead active and healthy lives. Earlier this year, during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Network host RICH EISEN ran the 13th annual ‘Run Rich Run’ 40-yard dash to benefit the NFL PLAY 60 relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Salute to Service – Military Appreciation

The NFL will honor and welcome active duty service members, veterans and their families at events throughout Draft week in Philadelphia.

On Thursday evening, a joint color guard and veterans from Wounded Warrior Project will join talent onstage during the National Anthem to open the Draft.

The NFL has teamed with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to honor the Frisons, a Gold Star Family. A Lancaster, Pa. native and passionate Philadelphia Eagles fan, U.S. Army 1st Lt. DEMETRIUS FRISON lost his life in combat in Afghanistan in 2011. Frison’s wife and son will accompany Eagles 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner and Long Snapper JON DORENBOS onstage to announce the Eagles’ Round 3 pick on Friday, April 28.

In addition, active duty service members from all five branches of the military and veterans from the USO and Wounded Warrior Project will be guests at the Draft on Saturday for Rounds 4-7. Prior to entering the Draft Theater, military members will enjoy a complimentary meal provided by MISSION BBQ. MISSION BBQ is dedicated to serving those who serve and donates proceeds to local military members, firefighters, police officers, and first responders.

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Recognition

Round 3 Draft announcements will feature past recipients and team winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide, including the 2013 national award winner and former Chicago Bears cornerback CHARLES TILLMAN.

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field and represents the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact.

NFL Draft Experience presented by Oikos Triple Zero

As previously announced, thousands of fans will have the opportunity to take part in free activities throughout Draft week at NFL Draft Experience presented by Oikos Triple Zero. Tickets are not required.

NFL Draft Experience is an expansive, interactive Draft celebration along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that is free to the public and open all three days of the Draft. NFL Draft Experience will feature interactive elements, flag football competitions, concessions, player appearances/autographs, a Super Bowl Museum and more.

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