By Tavi Baker, MPH Citywide Director of Youth Leadership Programs Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco
As we continue to undergo this period of sheltering in place, it can be increasingly challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our young people. Experiencing an ongoing trauma like this pandemic, on top of loss of income and housing and food insecurity, can affect every part of daily life. In addition, this prolonged break in normalcy and routine can cause many negative influences to our health, including increased stress and anxiety, lack of access to healthy food, a decrease in physical activity, loss of sleep, and an overall decline in mental health, particularly as we experience the loss of physical connection to loved ones (read more about how to manage stress and support your children during these turbulent times in our recent blog posts.)
As a Club leader with almost 20 years of youth development and health education experience and a master’s degree in Public Health, I want to share some advice on how to keep yourself and your family healthy and active during this unparalleled time in our history. I also reached out to two of our Club teens to get their thoughts on how youth can stay healthy right now.
Here are five tips on how to incorporate nutrition and physical activity into your daily routine, even with limited resources*:
Free Meals: SFUSD and DCYF are offering free grab-and-go meals. No identification or proof of school enrollment is required. Adults can pick up meals for children without a child present. BGCSF’s Visitacion Valley Clubhouse is a SFUSD food distribution location, our Excelsior Clubhouse is distributing food through DCYF, the Don Fisher Clubhouse is supporting a SFUSD food distribution effort at Ella Hill Hutch in the Western Addition, and our Sunnydale Clubhouse is supporting food distribution in their neighborhood. We are also working with three private food distribution efforts. As well, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank has grocery give-aways. If you live in another county, you can find resources here.
For great recipe ideas on how to use food from their pop-up pantries, go to EatFresh.org.
Mindful Eating:Here is a mindful eating activity to do with your family members—to savor each mouthful, especially in times when each bite counts and less variety might be available. Find a fruit, a raisin, or any bite-sized piece of food and follow along as elementary students explore their food. Instead of this: “I usually eat an orange by shoving it in my mouth, because it’s so delicious.” Try this: “What if you investigated your orange like a scientist? Notice what you see, smell, feel, and hear.” When you take time to slow down and chew your food, it can taste better and help you feel more full.
Teen Tip from Kionna F., 2020 Citywide Youth of the Year, CA State Youth of the Year Finalist, and 10-year Sunnydale Clubhouse member: Take the time to look up resources in your community. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; there are so many people in need at this time, and there are more than enough people willing to help. For example, in Sunnydale, there’s a food pantry on Tuesdays, free hot meals are being passed out by Mercy Housing at the Willie L. Brown Jr. Youth Center, and there’s a low-cost market in Daly City near the Dollar Tree. Also, if you’re able to afford groceries, do something nice and ask a friend or someone in your community if they need support.
Fitness with Jake: Jake Babick, BGCSF’s new Citywide Director of Sports, Fitness, and Play, is offering a daily fitness class for Club members with simple exercises they can do at home - like weight-lifting using cans of food. Go to kidsclub.org/updates to sign up for BGCSF’s Virtual Clubhouse if you’re interested in joining this class or our other quality virtual programs!
Teen Tip from Alexis L., President’s Advisory Council member and 4-year BGCSF member:During the school year, I go to school and work, so I don’t have time to focus on my physical fitness, even on the weekends. One good thing about the shelter-in-place is I can focus on me and doing self-care. I was on TikTok, and I saw a lot of people building their fitness, so I decided to try a couple of workouts on YouTube. My friend told me about Chloe Ting, and I saw that she had workouts for your abs, legs, gluts, back, and arms. I recommend her videos, because it gave me a good sweat, and I kept going from there!
At BGCSF, we aspire to be the healthiest place for youth in San Francisco. Every day at the Club, we provide nutritious snacks and meals, fun and engaging fitness activities and competitive sports, to get Club members excited about leading a healthy lifestyle. Also, through health education, we teach Club members how to make healthy choices for immediate and long-term health benefits, while setting themselves up for success in school. Learn more about our health and life skills programs here.
Tavi Baker has been with Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco for more than 13 years. Prior to stepping into her current role as Citywide Director of Youth Leadership Programs in 2017, Tavi served as Citywide Director of Health & Fitness for more than eight years. Tavi earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from U.C. Berkeley and her master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA.
November is Children's Grief Awareness Month. With generous support from New York Life Foundation and 1440 Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF) recently introduced the Healing Arts in Culture (HAiC) program and actively addresses the high rates of death among San Francisco’s BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Led by our Behavioral Health Services Team, the series connects the incredible cultural diversity of our communities with opportunities and resources that support emotional wellness, while celebrating all identities, and histories, and supporting related social activism.
At a time when the challenges facing San Francisco often make headlines, those of us who are deeply involved in the City are frequently asked for our assessment on what is currently happening and what we expect for the future. While clearly there are complex issues that must be solved if our City and its people are to thrive, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF) holds a steadfast sense of optimism for San Francisco, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure its bright future.