To continue the partnership between the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the just keep livin Foundation, Alfred Morris and Arie Kouandjio on Monday spoke to students at Roosevelt High School in northwest Washington, D.C.*
Running back Alfred Morris hadn't made the connection when he first arrived at Roosevelt High School and walked into a classroom of 15 students waiting for him.
The Charitable Foundation hosted a school visit in conjunction with the Just Keep Livin program at Roosevelt High School on Monday, November 16, 2015.
Back in the spring of 2014, he hosted "Movies With Morris," an event that partnered the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the just keep livin Foundation, started by Redskins fan Matthew McConaughey, which aims to empower high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices.
The funds raised that evening helped kick-start the program -- now in its second year -- at Roosevelt, and so Monday afternoon, Morris, along with offensive lineman Arie Kounadjio, was able to witness the culmination of his efforts more than a year ago.
"That's awesome, that just made the trip that much better," Morris said, smiling. "I'm thankful they got to start this program…it seems like they've really taken to it…They wanted to be here… and I'm glad we got to come here and see what we were able to put on with 'Movies With Morris.'"
Morris and Kouandjio acted as guest speakers, which come each month to the school, and reflected on a quote as part of the program that serves as an after-school club for students not necessarily involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities.
"Finish. 95 percent of people don't finish what they started. However small the task, only when you finish can you be proud. No matter what the outcome…Finish."
Morris and Kouandjio spoke about what November's quote meant to them before opening up a discussion that ranged from simple advice in school to detailed questions about how each one of them prepares on game days.
Specifically, Kouandjio remembered his own upbringing close by in Prince George's County, Md., and lectured about choosing the right friends in high school and having a vision for the person that you want to be. At moments, he had everyone's undivided attention.
"I feel like one of the only things in this world that's going to make you happy is by helping others," Kounadjio said. "Maybe five years down the road, ten years down the road, I see one of these guys and they tell you, 'Hey you helped me out. All my friends got in trouble, but I made it out, based off the little nugget that you gave me five, ten years ago.' That's what I'm doing right now. I'm planning right now."
Morris continued that thought, offering insights by invoking his own childhood -- the times where his parents couldn't afford a Christmas, or when he was overlooked as a football player -- something that resonated with several members of the school's football team that ducked into the classroom before practice.
"It's such a pivotal point for them," Morris said. "Coming and just talking to them and giving them some advice, I hope one of them will grab and use it moving forward in their life."
The hour-long session was all Christian Czaniecki could have hoped for. He helps coordinate the program with two other teachers, who have tried to assist students in taking ownership and guiding the group of students into something of their own.
Some of the program's major tenants include "Break a Sweat," Eat Healthy" and "Say Thank You," involving different kinds of relevant activities, the latter of which includes a daily gratitude circle, something Morris and Kouandjio participated in upon arrival.
"[It's] trying to get them more self-aware about the good things in their life so they can rely on those to help motivate them," said Czaniecki, who was thrilled about the partnership with the Redskins Charitable Foundation. "It's a great opportunity and we're grateful for that."
Following the talk and a group photo, Morris and Kounadjio stuck around to sign autographs, take selfies and answer any more questions – some silly, some serious – from the students, many of whom would have never had the opportunity to be involved in something like this if not for the program.
It felt especially gratifying for Morris, seeing the results of his efforts from more than a year ago.
"Have a plan," Morris told everyone. "If it gets altered, that's OK. That's life."
So far, the plan has worked.