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Video game teaches students financial literacy

In the locker room of the Atlanta Falcon’s at the Georgia Dome, wide receiver Roddy White, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and officials with Visa Inc., launched a statewide, financial literacy campaign aimed at helping students tackle their financial futures.

Visa Inc., officials introduced a virtual program called, “Financial Football,” which is a National Football League-themed, educational video game and classroom curriculum that helps students and adults gain a better understanding of financial matters.

Cagle said the free, educational program will be distributed to every public middle school and high school student in Georgia. “Financial Football is a wonderful way to get students interested in personal finances, and give them a financial playbook they can use the rest of their lives,” said Cagle. “This is a valuable program, and a great partnership between my office, Visa and the NFL.”

“For over a decade, Visa has been committed to promoting financial literacy, and we are proud to assist Lt. Gov. Cagle in his efforts to strengthen financial education throughout the state of Georgia,” said Jason Alderman, senior director of financial education for Visa Inc.

Students, who are members of the football team at the Hapeville Charter School and Career Academy, in Fulton County, where the first to get a preview of the game, as well as hear from Roddy White, who shared his personal experiences with money management.

White recalled that, when he was first drafted into the NFL –– at 22 years old –– he went from a modest income, to becoming a millionaire in the blink of an eye. As a result, he said, he became demanding and arrogant, and made some unwise financial decisions.

He said it wasn’t long before he “went from having $4 million, to only having $100,000 in the bank. When you come into money,” he said, “you really don’t know what you’re doing, [unless] you’re raised into money.”

White added that he understands that young people may look at him and assume, because he’s in the NFL, he does not have any financial problems or responsibilities. But he told the young people in attendance, “The more money you have, the more problems ... I will not always be able to play football, so I have to save my money.”

After giving the students words of advice and caution, White and Cagle joined them in a round of Financial Football, the video game. Cagle was on the Philadelphia Eagles team, and White led the Falcons team. The game got intense as Cagle and White took jovial nabs at each other. “Take that. Roddy!” yelled Cagle, as his team –– the Eagles –– defeated White’s team.

Widdie Gordon, 15, one of the students on the winning team with Cagle, said he benefited from the experience, because not only was he engaging in his favorite sport, but was also learning something very valuable at the same time. “I [learned] to save, and ask for help when I don’t understand something when it comes to finances,” he said.

Financial Football will be beneficial, not only to students, but parents as well, he added. “I learned [terms] that I didn’t even know existed. I’m going to teach my younger siblings and my [parents]–– [we will] all be learning,” he said.

Omari Washington, also 15, who was on the loosing team with White, shared his classmate’s enthusiasm with the program. Although his team lost the game, he said, he was able to get a better understanding about the financial world. “It was [terms] that I knew, and didn’t know,” said Washington. “Now, when I get older, I [will] have a better financial [understanding].

When both students where asked what they would do if they had a million dollars, Washington replied –– after hearing Roddy White’s story –– that he would save his money. His classmate, Gordon, said he would help his family first, and put the rest in a savings account.

“Kids need to know how to make smart-money-management decisions early in life,” said White. “It takes the combined efforts of parents, teachers and mentors within the community to give teenagers a strong background in personal finance.”

For more information about the Financial Football program, visit: www.georgia.financialfootball.com.