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This program used Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on health and wellness

By Robert Abare

For the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles (BGCELA), encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles goes hand-in-hand with the other areas of the organization’s mission: building students’ academic success and developing their character. For Lights On Afterschool 2016, BGCELA celebrated its achievements in keeping kids healthy by embracing a fun and unusual theme: bubbles.

BGCELA hosted a community 5K “Bubble Run” for Lights On Afterschool last month, providing a fun outlet for kids, their families, and local celebrities to get active while celebrating the importance of health and wellness education. Participants in the Bubble Run walked or jogged through mountains of bubbles at various checkpoints along the run, where local radio stations also filled the air with their music.

Happy memories lead to lifelong healthy habits

“It basically looked like a washing machine exploded,” said Anna Araujo, Executive Director of BGCELA and former Afterschool Ambassador. “We wanted to use this event to make healthy habits as fun and interactive for the kids as possible. That way, we give kids happy memories related to healthy activities, and those practices become lifelong habits.”

The event was emceed by Peter Daut, a local news anchor, and celebrity appearances were made by Luis Guzman of Code Black, Boxer Victor Ortiz, DJ Cece The Mamacita of KDAY, telenovela actor Adriana Fonseca, singer Miguelilto and actor Anthony “Citric” Campos of The George Lopez Show.

In keeping with the theme, kids also played “Bubble Soccer” at BGCELA’s Lights On Afterschool event, thanks to a local vendor. A local Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fitness program also led the event’s warm up activities, and various vendors offered samples of healthy foods and drinks (and water was provided at no cost).

Boxer Victor Ortiz races with singer Miguelito. Actor Luis Guzman signs a student's Bubble Run t-shirt.

The national Boys & Girls Club of America encourages healthy lifestyles across its programs through an initiative called Healthy Habits, meant to integrate healthy lifestyle choices into all aspects of children’s lives. The Boys & Girls Club of America also follows Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards to ensure these national initiatives are effective in preventing childhood obesity and keeping kids healthy. 

At BGCELA, fruits and vegetables are grown in the club’s own garden, and the club works with local foodbanks to provide kids with healthy meals. BGCELA also runs a healthy eating program targeted at Hispanic youth called Salsa, Sabor y Salud. “For us, health and wellness is something that crosses over into daily club life,” said Araujo.

Araujo added that the Lights On Afterschool event was a great way to celebrate the program’s accomplishments in health and wellness. “This event was a great way to culminate our various health initiatives and grant-funded work,” said Araujo. “It also raised awareness to the local community—from large corporations to the grassroots—about the work that we do, and reminded everyone, not just the kids, the importance of staying healthy.”