LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) and UCLA Health today announced their joint efforts to support youth and families as the pandemic continues to adversely impact the physical and mental health for Angelenos. At the start of February, LADF and UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind (SBSM) began distributing at-home fitness kits to all 500 youth of KIPP Academy of Innovation in East Los Angeles. On February 16th, LADF will also launch a series of live virtual fitness clinics with UCLA Health Sports Performance powered by EXOS for youth ages 5-18. These joint efforts to address health inequities, are bolstered by a LADF-supported research study, led by Dr. Rebecca Dudovitz, focused on defining best practices for physical education via distance learning and the resources needed to support this in education.
“UCLA Health has remained an important partner in our COVID-19 relief efforts and an authority on what our communities need right now,” said Nichol Whiteman, CEO of Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. “While we wish that this was not the case in 2021, we know that our families need ongoing assistance to help them cope while staying safe at home. Physical fitness and mental wellness go hand-in-hand and we are making the necessary investments and partnerships to make these resources available.”
“UCLA Health is proud to partner with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and deeply values their support of a pediatric research study around best practices for delivering physical education via distance learning, with a particular emphasis on our most underserved communities. While the findings of this study are currently under review, feedback from physical educators and school health experts highlighted how important it was that all children have access to basic fitness equipment. These initial findings help drive the continued work of LADF and UCLA Sound Body Sound Mind to create and distribute PE kits to students across Los Angeles,” said Johnese Spisso, President, UCLA Health.
LADF initially awarded a $25,000 grant to Sound Body Sound Mind to support P.E. and fitness gyms in schools but, due to need, the programs pivoted to provide at home P.E. kits to support students throughout distance learning.
“As we approach a full year of remote learning, the need for fitness at home has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed the fact that students need to exercise. The benefits of being active are tremendous, from increased academic performance and focus to decreased stress and anxiety,” said Matt Flesock, Executive Director of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind.
The kits include a reusable bag, water bottle, frisbee, jump rope, wiffle ball, cones, a yoga mat, a rubber playground ball, a resistance band, a mask, and hand sanitizer. Also included are educational materials, SBSM’s nutrition curriculum, four weeks of home workouts, and health tips for parents (available in both English and Spanish). SBSM will also work closely with KIPP Academy of Innovation’s P.E. teacher to support the use of the kits through P.E. instruction.
“Staying healthy this last year has been incredibly challenging for our students but our KIPPfit team has remained committed to developing innovative strategies to keep our kids mentally and physically healthy,” said Melissa Ulloa, School Leader, KIPP Academy of Innovation. “We are so grateful to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and to UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind for their generous donation. The Fit Kits will allow our students access to even more creative workouts and give them the outlet they need to remain optimistic in the face of on-going challenges.”
Through a series of 10 live virtual fitness workouts kicking off on February 16th, Los Angeles youth and Dodgers RBI participants ages 5-18 will learn fun and interactive exercises that will encourage them to develop a healthy lifestyle. UCLA Health Sports Performance powered by EXOS is a collaboration between two of the top organizations in the medical and sports performance fields and are experts in providing high-quality training, nutrition, and wellness support to athletes of all ages and abilities. Youth will be led through a 45-minute clinic including warmup and circuit workout as they are encouraged to stay home, stay healthy, and stay active.
**About the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation: **
ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is bigger than baseball with ambitions to be the city’s premier charity. We envision a city where everyone regardless of zip code has the opportunity to thrive. We are tackling the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness and social justice for all Angelenos. Since 1995, we have invested more than $32 million in programs and grants to nonprofits, and fundraising has increased by 1,000% since 2012. That growth has enabled us to do more. Visit LADF online at www.dodgers.com/ladf, follow them on Twitter, @DodgersFdn, Instagram, @dodgersfoundation, and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LosAngelesDodgersFoundation.
About UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind
The mission of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind is to promote self-confidence and healthy lifestyle choices among today’s youth. Through dedicated investment in middle school and high school physical education programs, SBSM is committed to building a healthier, more active generation of students in Los Angeles.