by Erin Edwards
Most of us know that exercise helps children build strong bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce anxiety. In “normal” times it is difficult to make sure students are getting the exercise they need, but in a pandemic the challenge is exacerbated.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) has partnered with UCLA Health to provide care, education and motivation to underserved teenagers in Los Angeles.
“As we approach a full year of distance learning, the need for fitness at home has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed the fact that students have to exercise. The benefits of being active are tremendous, from increased academic achievement and focus to reduced stress and anxiety, ”said Matt Flesock, executive director of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind.
“UCLA Health remains a key partner in our COVID-19 relief efforts and an authority on what our communities need right now,” said Nichol Whiteman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. “While we wish we didn’t in 2021, we know our families need ongoing support to get along and stay home safe. Physical fitness and mental wellbeing go hand in hand, and we are making the investments and partnerships necessary to make these resources available. “
Last month, LADF and UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind began distributing home fitness kits to all 500 teenagers at the KIPP Academy of Innovation in east Los Angeles. The kits included a reusable bag, water bottle, frisbee, skipping rope, whistling ball, cones, yoga mat, rubber playground ball, resistance band, mask, and hand sanitizer. Also included were educational materials, SBSM’s nutritional curriculum, four-week home training, and parenting health tips (available in both English and Spanish). SBSM is working closely with the KIPP Academy of Innovation to support the use of the kits through live PE classes.
On February 16, the LADF launched a series of live virtual fitness clinics that will last through June. UCLA Health Sports Performance is offered by EXOS for adolescents aged 5 to 18 years. These joint efforts to address health inequalities are underpinned by a LADF-sponsored research study that focuses on defining best practices for physical education via distance learning and the resources to do so in education, Vice-Chair of Primary Care College, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Amid the pain, suffering and hardship that Angelenos endured, a spirit of community has developed. Our partnership along with the research and ingenuity behind it is an example of the power we have when we work together.