Parker from YMCA Superior California

Success Story

Parker was a serious basketball fan. At just 8 years old, he saw the Sacramento Kings in the newspaper and started looking up their scores after the games. Soon he had the basketball bug and wanted to learn to play.

Parker joined YMCA Superior California’s after-school program, which is funded by United Way’s health initiative that includes our Fit Kids project. He learned a hard lesson: It’s hard to get the ball in the basket. Fortunately, a staff member encouraged him to keep practicing.

“She told me it’s important to have good sportsmanship because it’s fun and good for you,” Parker said.

Through our health initiative, including our Fit Kids project Parker participates in, we are calling on community members to be first responders in decreasing our region’s childhood obesity rate by giving immediate aid and finding lasting solutions for future generations. In addition to our Fit Kids project, our health initiative has created our United Way Healthy Meal program that is providing thousands of children with healthy after-school meals and snacks every day. These meals and snacks give them the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow.

But it all starts with teaching kids that exercise is fun and healthy food tastes good.

The following week Parker was showing off his skills that he had practiced at recess all week. Parker could dribble and shoot – and every day when he arrived at the YMCA, he wanted to play basketball. And Parker wasn’t the only thing jumping – so were his FitnessGram results. He took more than two minutes off of his mile run time, doubled his number of pushups and improved his trunk lift and sit exercise.

He also learned about nutrition: One night his mom was making a fun, simple meal for dinner. Parker came home, saw his mom cooking and said, “Mom! That’s not healthy. Where’s the protein?” Parker’s recipe for health success? Swap greasy food for fresh produce and get some exercise.

“Basketball is fun and healthy. If you do more exercise and eat fruit and vegetables, you’ll be more strong,” Parker said.