Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Jefferson & Cousins Use Robots to Connect with Youth


ST. PAUL — The initial plan was for Justin Jefferson to hop on a robot on wheels and have a virtual conversation with youth at the Mt. Airy Boys & Girls Club.

Jefferson did that, but the fun-loving Vikings rookie also turned the afternoon into a virtual dance party, too.

The first-round pick helped put smiles on dozens of kids' faces on a recent Tuesday afternoon when he and Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins virtually took part in the event.

Jefferson taught the young people his signature "Griddy" dance and then was eager to learn some other dance moves from the kids, too.

"It was a lot of fun. I've always seen the Boys & Girls Clubs over commercials and everything, but to actually be a part of it and actually see the smiling faces on kids, it's a great feeling to have," Jefferson said. "Them doing the dance and being that figure in their eyes and the person that they look up to, the person that they see on a high level, that's a good feeling to have.

"I remember when I was like that, looking up to the players that were in the NFL when I was younger," Jefferson added. "It's definitely a long time for me to see this moment, and I'm grateful to be where I am."

The dance party wasn't the only highlight of the day, as Cousins — who was on a different wheeled robot — popped by a classrooms of questions to check in on the 30 kids and their schoolwork.

As Cousins and Jefferson weaved in and out of rooms, kids ranging from kindergarteners to teenagers were buzzing that a pair of Vikings had stopped by to say hello.

"It's something different from their normal routine," said Boys & Girls Clubs Twin Cities Senior Director of Corporate and Public Relations Tim Schober. "It's been challenging times for our young folks with distance learning.

"We're able to take some kids here at the club on a daily basis, but it's far fewer kids than we normally serve so we can make sure we're safe," Schober added. "They're working hard, so having the Vikings here to recognize that is really special. We're here to make sure the kids are able to log in for classes with their schools and assist teachers where they may need a little added help."

View photos of the Vikings Table and Xcel Energy visiting the local Boys & Girls Club.

Schober said in normal times, the club would have upwards of 150 kids on an average afternoon. On this day, there were 30 kids in attendance.

They were treated to a tasty and healthy lunch that was provided by Vikings Table — the Minnesota Vikings Foundation's charity food truck — as cups of chili provided warmth on a brisk day.

And the day was educational for the kids as well, as representatives from Xcel Energy were on hand to teach them about the company. Xcel also set up free in-home visits with the families to help them reduce costs and become more energy efficient.

"We live and work in the communities that we serve," said Xcel Energy Senior Director of Customer Experience and Brand Strategy Megan Scheller. "For us, it's so important to give back to those communities so everyone has an opportunity to succeed.

"We know that saving energy and money is important to our customers, and now more than ever," Scheller added. "We're offering tips and tools, but also free services with our home energy squad."

A warm meal, an educational experience and an awesome dance party with one of the league's top rookies made for a day the kids won't soon forget.

"This was a wonderful time for us to give back to the community, not only with a healthy and nutritious meal for these kids," Vikings Executive Director of Social Impact Brett Taber said, "but also for Xcel Energy to provide great energy-efficient tips in these families' homes."