Basketball players teach healthy living at local elementary school

Listen to the audio story from Annenberg Radio News:


The schoolyard of Para Los Ninos Charter School in East Los Angeles transformed into a stage for two very bubbly, very tall Harlem Globetrotters. “Special K” and “The Shot” were there to show off their basketball tricks, but they were also there to spread the gospel of healthy living to a crowd of low-income, mostly Latino students.

I went to cover the show, but I had some competition.

A group of four girls surrounded me, notebooks in hand.

“I’m wearing a press pass. It’s so they can know we’re on the newspaper team,” said one.

The third and fourth graders sitting atop bleachers in the noonday sun, could hardly contain their excitement when the players’ coaching session was over and the real show began. The Globetrotters spun balls on their heads, fingers and even shoulders.

Health is a major priority at the school. Nearly all of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches. They’re catered by Unified Nutrimeals. Principal Judy Perlmutter describes the lunches as “low sodium, no high fructose corn syrup, fresh fruit and vegetables every day.”

Still, it’s a hard battle with a McDonald’s literally next door to the school. The students’ parents work in the factories near the school, some are living in temporary hotels downtown or shuttle from far away – they’re working class families.

And so complete chaos broke out when each student was given two tickets to a Globetrotters show. Kids leapt from the bleachers and started swarming and tackling the two Globetrotters with such sheer excitement that they knocked one of them to the ground.

The coolest trick of the day: “He passed the basketball onto her finger. It was so crazy,” reported an excited student. Crazy indeed.


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    There is no nutritional benefit gained by replacing high fructose corn syrup with another caloric sweetener. According to the American Dietetic Association, “high fructose corn syrup…is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”

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    Linda Farr RD,LD, consultant to the Corn Refiners Association

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