Boys & Girls Clubs Succeed with Longtime Kaiser Permanente Support

South San Francisco, CA   August 10, 2017  Submitted by Joe Fragola, Kaiser Permanente

It’s an important part of Kaiser Permanente’s mission to connect with and be involved in local organizations that directly improve the health of the communities we serve. And there’s no better example of such a relationship than the longstanding partnership between Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco and the Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County, also known as “the Clubs.”

“This is a special relationship that goes much deeper than fundraising and community outreach,” says Martha Gilmore, medical group administrator, South San Francisco Medical Center, who recently stepped down after serving almost 10 years on the organization’s board. “One nurse told me, `I grew up at these Clubs.’ Many members of the board want to give back because they benefited from the Clubs themselves.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County operates after school and weekend programs at five different sites, serving kids and families in a local, grassroots way that’s made them both effective and extremely popular, says Jim Illig, manager, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit. “The programs are the choice for parents who want their children to have more than just a place to go, but engagement and healthy development.”

Over the years, the South San Francisco Medical Center has supported the Club in a wide variety of ways, from grants and donations, to serving on the board, to direct in-kind services says Gilmore. “Our health educators give healthy eating classes and our therapists have been a resource to the program staff, so we’ve been able to fill multiple needs for this wonderful organization.” For example, Ken Shigematsu, director, KP SSF Psychiatry Department, has given generously of his time and service to support the organization, noted Gilmore.

By offering healthy snacks and plenty of opportunities for sports and physical activities, the Clubs are in sync with Kaiser Permanente’s goals of supporting healthy lifestyle choices. “When it comes to teaching kids about healthy eating and active living, a big focus is trying to counter behavior like sitting in front of screens for hours at a time and eating unhealthy snacks,” says Illig. “These clubs are the antitheses of that.”

This year, the Clubs are initiating a new effort to document program attempts to improve kids’ eating habits and physical activity with a Community Benefit grant from Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco. Using the Triple Play curriculum developed nationally by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the grant will follow 100 Club members in third through fifth grades who attend programs at the Sunshine Gardens Elementary School Clubhouse in South San Francisco and the Yosemite Drive Clubhouse in Pacifica.

Through nutrition education, cooking lessons, and participation in the Clubhouse Garden Program, the kids will develop healthier eating habits, including eating more fruits and vegetables. Club members will also join a Mileage Club with daily challenges in the form of physical fitness-related exercises and games. The goal: at least 75 percent of the kids followed will report that they’ve increased their physical activity, including walking at least 125 miles through Mileage Club.

“Kaiser Permanente is one of the major employers in South San Francisco and the Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County is the largest after-school enrichment program for the children and teenagers for our city,” says Gilmore. “So it has made a tremendous amount of sense for us to have this ongoing relationship and help provide this safety net for our children and teenagers.”