Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

VC Star – Children challenged to rethink their drinks

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on June 22, 2010

A campaign to educate children about healthy alternatives to sugary drinks was launched Monday at the Boys & Girls Club in Oxnard.

Representatives of the Network for a Healthy California, Gold Coast Region, joined forces with Ventura County Public Health officials for the Rethink Your Drink Campaign, challenging youngsters to replace at least one sugary drink a day with milk or water.

“We’re doing this because the average America consumes a hundred pounds of sugar a year and that’s about a quarter of a pound a day and much of that sugar comes from beverages they are drinking,” said JoAnn Torres, the network’s regional collaborative coordinator.

Pediatrician Dr. Heather Nichols spoke to the 100 or so kids gathered in the club’s gymnasium on West Fifth Street about the need to cut sugar from their diets. She said she sees the harm too much sugar can do every day at her practice at Santa Paula Clinic West.

“Obesity is such a problem and it keeps growing in Ventura County,” she said. ”Our rates of diabetes are higher and higher all the time. I see children every day with complaints of hip, knee and ankle pain just from their obesity plus sleep apnea and difficulty breathing at night.”

Health officials set up information stations explaining the need to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, the importance of exercise and how to tell how much sugar is in beverages from reading their nutrition labels.

On one table, several popular beverages including energy drinks, bottled tea and vitamin waters were laid out along with a bag showing the equivalent amount of sugar contained in each can or bottle.

“Even your vitamin water, which might seem to be a healthy drink, has nine teaspoons of sugar in it,” said Torres.

After some words of encouragement from U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who dropped by to lend her support to the campaign, the children filled out a pledge card and were given a form on which to track their beverage consumption during the next eight weeks.

“I think soda’s not a very good thing if its going to ‘sugarize’ us, but it still tastes good,” said Ryan De La Cruz, 10. “I think it’s OK to drink it once in awhile, just not all the time.”

“It’s good that they’re telling us this now while we are little kids so diabetes and stuff doesn’t happen to us later on,” said 12-year-old Keira Wicham.

Nichols said she hopes the kids will go home and talk to their parents about what they had learned.

“Sugary drinks are made and manufactured to taste good and so it’s tricky to convince them, but hopefully the Rethink Your Drink Challenge will make a difference with what they’re doing this summer,” said Nichols. “Any change that we make is a good one.”

VC Star – Former NFL player to participate in golf tournament

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on June 21, 2010

Keary ColbertA guest appearance by former NFL player and Boys & Girls Club alumnus Keary Colbert will highlight the Fore the Kids Golf Classic, an annual benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

The annual fundraiser, now in its 18th year, will be June 28 at Las Posas Country Club in Camarillo.

“The club hopes to net more than $35,000 this year to benefit youth programming,” said Meggan McCarthy, director of special events and marketing for the club. Programs cover character and leadership, health and life skills, arts and music, academic assistance, youth employment services and more.

The golf tournament will also feature a raffle with field-level Dodgers tickets and autographed sports memorabilia among the prizes. Colbert and some of his friends and former NFL players will be on hand to pose for photos and sign autographs.

Colbert, 28, a graduate assistant coach at USC who played for the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, said that growing up in Oxnard, “my parents always stressed the importance of education, hard work and doing my best. As a kid, I was not always the smartest, fastest or most talented, but I learned at an early age the powerful expression, ‘It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.’”

Colbert joined the club in elementary school during summer break while his parents were working full time.

“With great adult supervision in a safe and secure environment, the club proved to be the best place to spend my free time,” Colbert said.

The club had such a positive effect on his life that Colbert is serving as the spokesman for Be Great, a National Boys & Girls Club campaign that has been localized by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

The national effort features billboards with faces of past club alumni, including celebrities like Denzel Washington and Martin Sheen. The localized campaign, which showcases billboards throughout Oxnard, features Colbert as well as Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach.

“If I can influence one kid through my work with the club, I know that will go a long way and the cycle will continue,” Colbert said. “Great lives start here, and Oxnard and Port Hueneme are blessed to have the clubs in our community to produce the next generation of leaders aiming to Be Great.”

In today’s tough economy, children are feeling the burden their families carry as they struggle to make ends meet, McCarthy added.

“That’s why the Boys & Girls Club is vital to serving our community’s youth — we provide a safe haven for children who wouldn’t otherwise have anywhere else to go after school and during the summer,” said McCarthy, noting that the cost to join is just $15, and no child is ever turned away because of economic hardship.

“But the club’s expense exceeds $500 per youth, per year,” she emphasized. “Fundraisers like this golf tournament help the club to shore up the difference between membership dues and costs incurred.”