LA Clippers inspire fitness in South LA youth

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageFor more than 200 students at the Foshay Learning Center, Tuesday wasn’t just any day. These local Kindergarten through 12th graders are participating in the FIT program. It’s a pep rally and fitness program led by the LA Clippers Foundation, who partnered with the California Endowment.

Joe Safety is Vice President of Communication for the Clippers. He says the motivation to be physically fit must come from within the students, but the goal of the FIT program is to be the flame that ignites the fire.

“They’re leading this kind of effort with kids this age makes for to healthier adults,” said Safety.

Through fun games, competitions, and free giveaways, the foundation is encouraging healthy lifestyles. Promoting students’ health is also at the cornerstone of Foshay’s educational plan, explains the school principal Yvonne Edwards.

She has spearheaded efforts to change what is served in the school’s lunchroom.

“I’m like, wow, is this the same place? Where’s the pizza?”

Instead of the soda and fried foods of past years, the students now choose from healthier meals like sushi, chicken, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition to healthy eating, Foshay also has a strong Physical Education department which requires all students to pass a fitness test before graduation, a feat that’s difficult from some students to achieve. That’s why Edwards is glad someone like former Clippers player Sean Rooks is here to inspire them. “It’s about waking up in the morning and choosing fruits and juices as opposed to donuts and cokes.”

And according to some students, it’s working. Take it from Kayla, a 6th grader who loves to dance. “I like how everybody feels like they should get active.”

As she gazes in awe at the Clippers dancers performing just a few feet away, Kayla explains with eyes wide open and a smile beaming from ear to ear. “When I grow up I want to be a choreographer.”

The kids traveled around from station to station, participating in activities ranging from a basketball shoot out to dance clinics. It was clear by the smiles on their faces that the event was a success.

“We’re having so much fun!”

Clippers staff members will keep a close eye on their target schools in the coming months. They will encourage the students to log fitness minutes and reward a prize to the school who logs the highest number.

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