Former U of U football player working to help Utah kids stay healthy, ‘Play Unplugged’

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SPANISH FORK, Utah -- It has been six years since Colt Sampson put on a Utah jersey as a tight end for the Utes. Now, he has four young children and wants them to be as active as he was when he was their age.

With some help from the public, Sampson is trying to implement a program in Spanish Fork called "Play Unplugged" to get kids off their electronics and outside doing activities.

"I love anything that gets the kids away from the television, away from video games," Colt Sampson said. "I have four kids myself, younger kids, and being an ex-college athlete, anything you can do to stay fit throughout your life, it's going to help you in every aspect of your life."

From fishing to hiking, kids of all ages can receive badges to put on lanyards for their activity.

"Kids get to wear these [lanyards] all summer long," Sampson said. "One thing that is really nice is in the community we sponsor 101 of these activities, so local business owners, local community members, anyone who wants to get involved can sponsor a badge. Once you do these activities, you go into the sponsor and they give you a badge and you get to wear it on this lanyard all summer long."

Former winner Maddy Johnson says that her favorite thing about the program was all the different places they could visit during the summer.

"My favorite part was probably getting up every morning and looking through the booklet and seeing what we had to do that day and where we had to go if the shop was open that day to get your badge or not," Maddy Johnson said. "It was fun just going around town and going to different businesses and getting them."

But, the "Play Unplugged" program is currently in a competition for a $25,000 grant with 199 other recreational programs throughout the country.

If they get enough Facebook likes to put them in the top 40, they will receive enough money to run the program for three to four years.

"My personal goal of promoting this program so much is I really feel that out of these 101 activities, some kid out there is going to find a passion by doing this activity and are going to have a great experience," Sampson explained. "They are going to want to develop these skills and live a healthy lifestyle the rest of their life because of it."

Sampson said, as a former athlete, he has been inspired to give back to his community, wherever he may be.

"Coach Whitt, he was big on being a great citizen off the field and then on the field it will carry over," Sampson said.

If you want to learn more about "Play Unplugged" and how to vote, visit the program's website. Or if you want to vote directly, click here.