San Francisco 49ers’ defensive lineman Arik Armstead has said that this season, he will begin all of his media sessions by highlighting an issue dealing with social justice and equality. Last week, he talked about the rise of hate crimes in this country, and Monday, he talked about inequalities in our education system.
“I think it’s important that we think about how we are equipping our students to be successful in life and also just think about the students that we’re leaving behind and that we’re not preparing to have a successful life,” Armstead said Monday on a Zoom call with the media. “…[S]tudies have showed that if we address education inequality, that will be a big step into addressing a a lot of other inequality in our country…”
Education is an area that Armstead is passionate about because he sees how a quality education can lead to success throughout one’s life.
“…I feel all students need and deserve the right to have the opportunity to be successful in life, and that starts with their education early on,” Armstead said. “There’s been links between early adolescent education and success in life. So I think we should start there, pool our resources, and invest into student’s opportunities and education. I think no matter where a student lives or what neighborhood they grew up in, they deserve a chance to be successful in life and have a great education.”
Armstead created the Armstead Academic Project, which, according to its website, works “to supply students with a learning environment and resources that allows them to thrive and be successful.”
Through the Project, Armstead started the reading program, Storytime with Arik Armstead, and has donated much-needed supplies and ensuring that even during COVID-19 and virtual learning, children are not missing out on what they need.
“I think the number one thing is literacy,” Armstead said. “Literacy is everything, being able to read, being able to read and write…That’s why I’ve done a reading program. The 49ers have done a great job helping me with that and trying to promote reading and making reading cool and fun for students…I just mentioned the stat of funding and the lack thereof for students in these communities, COVID multiplies that. So when they’re not able to go to school and get food, they’re not able to go to school and use the technology at the school, and everything’s becoming virtual. So one of the latest programs we did was provide internet and tablets for students so they can continue to work from home and work virtually…”
For Armstead, taking a leadership role on the issues of education, and various other issues around inequality, has evolved since he first came into the NFL in 2015.
“It just grows on you as you mature as a player…,” Armstead said “I’m fortunate enough to have a lot more resources, a bigger platform, a lot more money that I can put back into my community…So, it just continues to grow and grow. And as you learn, mature and really listening to God and seeing where he wants me to be a light and help out in my community too. So it just grows with time as you mature and as your career progresses. I want to continue to be a better player on the field and a better person off the field and a leader in my community.”
You can nominate your class for Storytime with Arik Armstead here.
*Header image provided by 49ers.com