Make healthy life choices. Maintain a well-rounded diet and exercise daily to live a longer, healthier more energetic life. This concept is not new. However, for many, due to a lack of necessary resources while living in poverty stricken areas, this is easier said than done. The month of September is dedicated to drawing awareness to two specific health related issues that most would not guess are connected: Hunger and Childhood Obesity. Though drawing a connection between hunger and childhood obesity may seem counterintuitive, the trends of children growing up in poverty-stricken areas reveal an undeniable link between the two. Serving those who need us most, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver draws in many kids who live in neighborhoods which do not provide easy access to encouraging healthy lifestyles. However, with the help of our Healthy Lifestyles Team, Club members are provided outlets to learn about nutrition and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While our Healthy Lifestyles Team works year round with Club members to positively encourage and educate them on healthy life habits, here are a couple of things that have been highlighted during the month of September in recognition of Hunger and Childhood Obesity Awareness month.
Residents of low-income neighborhoods often have little or no access to full-service grocery stores with nutritious, healthy foods (areas known as food deserts) and are often limited to shopping at convenience stores where, when available, healthy food is more expensive than cheaper, calorie-dense foods. BGCMD’s Solutions:
- Free Grocery Program at Vickers Boys & Girls Club: Eating healthy is easier when you have convenient and affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables. That is why Vickers Boys & Girls Club at the Nancy P. Anschutz Center has formed a partnership with Denver Food Rescue to run a free grocery program at the Club once a week. Since beginning this program in July, it has been a huge success. Routinely providing an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies, Club members are getting the opportunity to try new food like apricots. The verdict: they love them!
- Nutrition Education: Knowledge is power; especially when it comes to making healthy choices when shopping for food and cooking. Health Specialists are working with Club members to teach them how they can nutritionally benefit most from the foods available to them. Providing weekly Healthy Cooking Classes, kids are learning how to cook meals for themselves. Most recently, the Health Specialists taught kids how to make sweet potato fries. The cooking nutrition lesson of the day focused on the importance of fiber. Kids were sent home with a sweet potato and a recipe to teach their families how to make the healthy snack at home.
- Limit Sugar Intake: Commerce City Boys & Girls Club has completely eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages from their Club and all the other clubs are working to remove unhealthy snack options from the Clubs.
Lower income neighborhoods have fewer physical activity resources than higher income neighborhoods, including fewer parks, bike paths and recreational facilities, making it difficult to lead a physically active and safe lifestyle. Low-income children are also less likely to have recess at school and are less likely to participate in organized sports. BGCMD’s Solutions:
- Highlight the benefits of walking: Commerce City Boys & Girls Club is getting pedometers for their Club Members and will host step counting challenges.
- Daily Workout Challenge: Creating healthy habits of excellence is key to maintaining optimum health. Commerce City Boys & Girls Club is encouraging the kids to commit to exercise routines by providing daily 20 minute physical challenges with all their Club Members.
- Weekly Yoga: Club Members at Boettcher Boys & Girls Club have the opportunity to take yoga classes while learning the benefits of practicing mindfulness, balance, focus and awareness of breath.
Visit our Health & Life Skills Programming Page to learn more about what our Healthy Lifestyles Team is up to.
As the September weather begins to cool, a crisp bite in the air at Sports Authority Field at Mile High subsides as the fans energy begins to fill the stadium; it’s time for football! At 6:30 p.m. with the blow of a whistle, Sunday, September 7th kicked off the Denver Broncos’ first official game of the 2014-2015 NFL Season. Every year around this time, with orange sunsets radiating through the warm blue skies above a sea of Bronco’s fans dressed in orange and blue paraphernalia, there is a strong sense of unity amongst the Denver community.
“Hiking into the wild, not knowing exactly what might be found; grizzly bear tracks, the bond of shared experiences or the simple pure joy of being with friends.”
After a full summer of successfully fulfilling their duties as youth leaders and exceeding their goals at their respective Clubs and Gates Camp, ten Club Members were rewarded with an unforgettable week of exploring Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to Yellowstone Adventures, these Club Members got to learn copious amounts about the history and landscape at Yellowstone.
Diotto helps Katelyn with her homework.
Once a day in the afternoons, Power Hour strikes putting a brief pause to all activities non-school related. During this time, all Club Members are required to dedicate one hour straight to working on an academically focused endeavor. Connecting with many promising students, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver has helped many students realize their full potential in the academic world.
At Place B&GC, last year Power Hour was led by Tadeo and Diotto, two student peer leaders who have attended the Club for several years. Eventually, their increasingly veteran status helped transition them into more of a leadership role within the Club. Starting as volunteers and then receiving paid positions, Tadeo and Diotto filled their afternoon hours running the Power Hour Peer Leaders program.
Musician Jack Johnson spends time with Club members in the Learning Garden
This past Monday, Club members at got a special surprise when musician Jack Johnson visited Vickers Boys & Girls Clubs at the Nancy P. Anschutz Center. He was in town to kick off his latest tour at Red Rocks and stopped by to hang out with some very lucky kids to help harvest food from the Club’s Learning Garden.
Jack Johnson joined Club members for a garden scavenger hunt lead by The Kitchen Community. They collected items from the garden that were all part of a recipe that they learned. After the scavenger hunt, they snacked on the fresh veggies they collected and tasted smoothies. Jack then surprised everyone with an impromptu performance and taught a few kids how to play the ukulele! The kids each went home with a bag full of fresh veggies and a new recipe to try with their families.
Friday, August 1st marked the closing day for all Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s summer programming. From rocket launches to wooden car races, the 2,000 kids we serve each day were given access to engaging activities to continue the learning process throughout the summer months.
We would like to give a HUGE THANKS to all of our partners who made our summer programming possible. We could not have done it without you! Below are details about a few of the countless program partners and volunteer groups that we have been fortunate to work with. Continue reading
“Camp allows me to just get away and have a week where I can just relax. I don’t have to deal with the worries I have in the city.” Arath, age 13
Drive west for roughly fifty miles while gaining over 4,000 feet in elevation and Denver’s sky scrapers will quickly morph into trees while the street lights blinding glow diminish revealing thousands of twinkling stars. This summer 544 Denver kids got the opportunity to leap out of their comfort zone and explore nature’s playground at BGCMD’s Gates Camp. For many, this is a week full of firsts: first time spending consecutive nights away from home, first time hiking, first time rock climbing and much more.
Get in the spirit of the season with Scream Scram, Denver’s only nighttime Halloween-themed 5K.
Join us Friday, October 17, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. for this fun 5K event. Gather your family, friends and teams, dress in costume and head to Washington Park early to walk the Orange Carpet. After the race, cruise Trick-or-Treat Street for yummy food and fun treats. Don’t forget the 100M Spooky Sneak for kids to kick off the race!