Healthy habits should start at an early age.
For years, Pastor Quincyetta McClain’s Friday Unity Night in the Neighborhood (FUN) Club has been delivering that very message.
June, for example, is Health Education and Awareness Month: You Are What You Eat, Drink, and Think.
In keeping with that theme, she brought aboard work colleague Dr. Paul Leong of Kaiser Permanente as the FUN Club’s Medical Director. This first-time volunteer specializes in pain management and palliative medicine at Kaiser Modesto and Manteca.
“Good eating habits starts now,” he said Friday. “It’s important that young people stay active.
“Childhood obesity is big in this country.”
As the newest addition to the FUN Club – the program is designed for those ages 6 to 17 – Leong has recruited club volunteers to help him monitor youngsters, including Bianca Arao and Chelsea Gomez.
Both are incoming seniors at Manteca High.
“It’s been great experience for us,” said Gomez of working with an actual doctor. She’s hoping to become an athletic trainer.
Gomez and Areo assist Leong in taking down blood pressure, weight, and height while putting out the health reading material for young club members in the Health & Wellness Center of the FUN Club facility located at 602 E. Yosemite Ave.
This is the second year at this Manteca site, McClain said. She estimated membership count at about 200 since the start of the new campaign two week ago.
FUN Club was launched seven years ago at the Southside Christian Church in response to a community challenge by the Manteca Police Department to search out ways of providing youngsters with health and safe alternatives to combat gang influences.
“We tell them not to drink soda but only water,” said Leong, who urges youngsters to develop good eating habits and an early age.
As a medical expert, he sees plenty of patients who struggle with the “quality of life” issue. Many battle diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Most of these later-in-life ailments can be avoided, Leong said.
It all starts with good eating habits and regular fitness activities.
Leong also oversees any mishaps in the club while keeping tabs on members who might have medical-related conditions. His office is equipped everything for such emergencies including a defibrillator.
“We’ve learned (from Dr. Leong) how to do some of the procedures,” said Arao, who hopes to someday become a physician.
For example, she gets to do the Body Mass Index (BMI) monitor – this provides an accurate measurement of weight and body fat percentage – to help put together a better health profile on club members.
The FUN Club runs through the end of August at 602 E. Yosemite Ave. on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. The second session is tonight.
The program functions like a mini Boys & Girls Club. It is driven by three primary themes:
• June is Health Education and Awareness Month “You Are What You Eat, Drink, and Think”.
• July is Empowerment Month: “Say No to Gangs, Drugs, Crime, Alcohol, Tobacco, Bullying, and Soda”.
• And August is Back to School Month: “Be Cool Stay in School, You Must be a High School Graduate”.
Weekly activities include basketball, jump rope, hula hoop, and bounce house, pool table, ping pong, foosball, air hockey, table games, art and crafts. The electronic game offerings include Play Station rock band section.
The first hour each Friday is an educational program. The students hear from a wide variety of great guest speakers from many professionals and experts in the community. Included are the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Manteca Police, Valley Oak Dental, and many others. The second hour is dedicated to al dining and nutritional experience. Students enjoy watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, grapes, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and pizza from Little Caesar’s. The third hour students engage various activities of their choosing.
More information of the FUN Club can be obtained by calling 209.275.2154 or logging on to www.funclubprogram.org.