Fifty-three kids learned how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent type-2 diabetes at Health Squad, a weeklong camp presented by Youth Alliance, the American Diabetes Association and Safeway Pharmacy.

Kids, ages 10 to 14, were taught about nutrition and exercise through fun activities including soccer and basketball lead by youth volunteers, and interactive lessons lead by a nutritionist and Safeway pharmacists.  

“The kids were made aware of what they were putting into their bodies,” said neighborhood coordinator at Youth Alliance, Dolores Villalon. “They were concerned about the foods they normally ate and asked the nutritionist great questions about healthier choices.”

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A study, conducted by researches at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that those who improved their diet by eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and less sweetened beverages and saturated fats significantly reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to those who made no dietary changes.

Throughout the week, the kids learned how to determine “sometimes” foods verses “everyday” foods, why fiber is important to health, and how vitamins and minerals impact their bodies.

Health Squad kids put their new knowledge to the test during a field trip to Safeway, where they practiced reading labels and identified healthy choices.

Kids also took part in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning activities, and were taught how to prepare healthy snacks at home by a nutritionist.   Safeway provided healthy lunches, snacks and waters for the week.

The free day camp was held from June 16 to June 20 at the Rancho Park Apartments in Hollister, thanks to in-kind support from Eden Housing.

About Youth Alliance. Youth Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides innovative and culturally relevant services that strengthen and enrich youth, families and the community. Youth Alliance has served San Benito County since 1995. They offer after school programs, youth support services, bullying prevention programs, and community outreach in San Benito and Santa Clara counties. For more information on Youth Alliance visit youthall.org, and follow Youth Alliance on Facebook and Twitter.