Just prior to the NFL Draft last week, the 49ers partnered with the Junior League of Palo Alto Mid-Peninsula for a Kids in the Kitchen event to demonstrate the importance of healthy eating and physical fitness for students at the 49ers Academy located in East Palo Alto.
Jenna and Mara York, daughters of Owners Denise and John York, along with current defensive tackles Kentwan Balmer and Khalif Mitchell and wife of QB Alex Smith, Elizabeth, spent their afternoon Wednesday demonstrating healthy eating habits and assisting with a youth football camp for the nearly 200 youth in attendance.
"The 49ers are committed to helping youth understand the importance of being active for at least 60 minutes a day, as part of the NFL's Play60 program," said 49ers Director of Community Relations and the 49ers Foundation Joanne Pasternack. "Kids in the Kitchen is a great way to show youth how to be health conscious, and, coupled, with one of our youth football camps, it will help the youth stay active as well."
The event started with cooking and tasting classes for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade hosted by the Yorks and Mrs. Smith, followed by the 49ers Junior Gatorade Camp in their multipurpose room which included events from football drills, to freeze dance with the Gold Rush cheerleaders to hula-hooping. Sourdough Sam also made a special appearance to support the youth in their efforts to be active and live a healthy lifestyle by participating in the football camp activities with the kids.
Mitchell expressed the importance of the 49ers hosting an event like this to help change the habits of the kids in order to stay healthy and active.
"It's an important thing, I was just watching it on the news the other day where they were talking about changing lunch meals because kids are getting too obese and they need to stay fit. They are trying to take recess out of school. Kids needs to play around and move around and know about nutrition to reduce diabetes and help them live longer and if they can go out and play 60 minutes a day it helps, it makes a big difference."
Following the football camp, the parents filed into the multipurpose room where they were given a cooking demonstration by Chef Alessandro Cartumini from the Four Seasons East Palo Alto. With this demonstration, the parents were able to take what they and the children learned throughout the day about healthy eating and implement it into their everyday lives. Chef Alessandro showed the group how to make pasta sauce in a nutritious way.
The goal of the Kids in the Kitchen initiative, which is supported by The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. and its member Leagues, is to empower youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.
"Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is extremely important for today's youth," said Jan Woolsey, president, Junior League of Palo Alto Mid-Peninsula. "By partnering with the San Francisco 49ers, the Junior League is able to further promote the development, confidence and growth of these children through healthy eating and cooking, and physical fitness."
The event hosted approximately 200 youth from both the 49ers Academy and Costano Elementary School, which shares the campus and mission of the 49ers Academy. The 49ers Academy was founded in 1996 to serve 6th, 7th and 8th grade students from East Palo Alto. Defined by educational excellence, the 49ers Academy maximizes the potential of every student by emphasizing self-discipline, respect, and individualized academic attention to help them master core subjects and prepare for high school.