Ward, Leung and McCullough are shown bonding with the students of Maze Middle School for their project, 'Live Well. Be Well.'

In the San Benito County, there are many excellent recreational sports teams that allow youths to exercise, play and meet new friends. While this is perfect for most kids in a small town, there is one problem that still affects many. There are a great number of children who are unable to participate in these recreational sports due to their family’s income. Some of them do not even have sports equipment to play with at home.
To overcome this obstacle to living a healthy lifestyle, we San Benito County 4-Hers Erica Leung, Jessica Ward, and Kelly McCullough carried out their Join the Revolution of Responsibility project “Live Well. Be Well.” This was a large service project to benefit the members in our community. Focusing on youth health and fitness, we felt that a project that emphasized the importance of physical activity and healthy eating would be beneficial to the children in our community. In order to reach this goal, we partnered with a local program called Youth Alliance. The organization supports all the after-school programs of the various elementary and junior high schools in the county.
Our project began by our group hosting a sports equipment collection from our county 4-H clubs and community. We asked for gently used sports equipment from the families and friends in 4-H to give to three after-school programs. We received a multitude of generous donations. Our group was even able to purchase some new sports equipment for the programs as well. Once this was accomplished, we met with the board of Youth Alliance and brought them the donations we received. The people in charge of the organization were extremely grateful for our contributions and truly appreciated what we were doing.
We chose three days in which we would bring additional equipment to each of the after-school programs: Calaveras School, Maze Middle School, and R.O Hardin Elementary, and played with the kids who were part of Youth Alliance. We felt that the only way to make the project meaningful would be to put what we were advocating into action. When we arrived to the schools, we introduced ourselves and then divided the kids up into three different groups. Ward took one group to play basketball games, McCullough would take another group to play soccer and I, Erica, would take a third group to play four-square games. This was a fantastic experience because we got to see how happy this made the kids. They all expressed their gratitude by grabbing any piece of equipment we brought and started playing with each other. After the kids played, we served them healthy snacks of orange slices, carrots and water. While the kids ate, I asked them why it is important to eat healthy food and be active. They answered me with positive answers such as “It will help you grow to be big and strong”; and “You will be able to do more and stay fit.” Then they went rushing back to the blacktop to continue their play time.
Overall, this project went extraordinarily well because our group received a huge amount of support from those in and out of 4-H. By taking on a Join the Revolution project, we affected the lives of children in such a unique way. We did not sit them down and lecture them about healthy living; we got out there and demonstrated it by having fun with them. One girl who was part of Youth Alliance cheerfully told me, “This is the best day ever!”, while another one asked, “Will you come back again? This is really fun.” Even one of the after-school program directors said, “Thank you so much for coming! This is like Christmas all over again, seeing the kids so happy. We really appreciate all these donations.” To get responses like these is much more rewarding than just getting community service hours. Knowing that we made a difference by showing a little concern for the well-being of the children in our hometown is what made all of our hard work worth doing. McCullough also said, “We knew this project was important and it was great to help out kids who don’t usually get to play with sports equipment at home. They were all so grateful and kind!” At the end of each day, we left the kids with their gently used and new sports equipment, healthy snacks and big smiles on their faces. We San Benito County 4-Hers were proud to have been part of the Revolution of Responsibility.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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