Olympic Skater Apolo Ohno promotes healthy living at Kennedy Middle School

Olympic-sized grades and behavior brought a group of Kennedy Middle School sixth-graders nearly an hour of face time Tuesday with short-track speedskater Apolo Ohno.

This perhaps was the first real evidence to the 42 middle-schoolers that positive choices yield positive results, but there was more to come.

The visit by Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian in history, was intended to promote The Century Council’s on-going campaign to encourage school children across the country to embrace a healthy lifestyle and reject underage drinking.

The Kennedy visit was one of many Ohno will make this year on behalf of The Century Council, a Virginia-based nonprofit that crusades against drunk driving and underage drinking. Ohno also has launched the Apolo Ohno Foundation to promote a healthy lifestyle message.

Ohno, 27, told the students he’d faced childhood challenges similar to them, but told them, "At the end of the day, the decision to say no to drugs and underage drinking was up to me. The decisions you make now are the ones that will affect you for the rest of your lives."

Having a high-profile athlete such as Ohno offer a no-drinking message will make a big difference to kids, said Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a long-time supporter of the Century Council and its work.

“I can’t imagine a better ambassador,” he said.

Kennedy Principal Lucious Brown said that promoting a healthy lifestyle message is in line with his school’s mission and having an athlete such as Ohno helps underscore the importance of keeping physically fit.

“The research shows that if you stay active, it increases your retention rate 60 percent,” said Brown.

Jacarri Allen, 10, summed up Ohno’s visit this way: "It was fun."