MolinaCares at Boys and Girls club

Gabriel works on his "snowflake ball," one of two recipes taught to the Boys and Girls Club of Brawley members by the MolinaCares and ECRMC Tuesday, July 20.

BRAWLEY — The Boys and Girls Club of Brawley was a given a chance to be hands on with their nutrition and healthy living Tuesday, July 20, thanks to the collaboration between the MolinaCares Accord and El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) to host Dr. Cleo’s Cooking Club.

The group gave the Boys and Girls Club a presentation that touched on the importance of physical fitness, proper handwashing techniques, and healthy nutrition with hands on snack creation. Alexandra Bravo, Molina Healthcare Community Engagement manager, said Molina is dedicated to working with its partners like ECRMC to bring health education to youth of the Imperial Valley.

Matthew Jaime, ECRMC clinical dietitian, said he focuses on showing the children how to make connections with healthy food, exercise, and teach them how it all affects their bodies without the usual generic information of "this is bad for you."

Jaime said he wants the children to have fun with nutrition and exercise, not just thinking of them as a chore.

“The most important thing is building healthy foundations in nutrition in childhood, and I’m not talking about focusing on everyone avoiding high fatty foods, and sugars, and salts — no,” said Jaime. “Let’s make connections with the kids and appreciate food for what it does for our bodies.”

Shortly after a presentation on the importance of physical activity and proper handwashing, Jaime and others from ECRMC showed the children how to make kid-friendly recipes for healthy snacks. These included the classic “ants on a log” celery sticks and raisins, and “snowflake balls” crunchy cereal balls put together with almond butter.

The children were also given goodie bags that contained a flyer on proper handwashing, a jump rope, a hula hoop, and a stuffed animal. They took home a booklet with kid-friendly, healthy recipes that included the two they made on Tuesday.

Bravo said Molina and ECRMC hope what the children learned at the event will help drive those lessons home and help them stick with them.

“It is very important we get this message out to our community, especially with our youth. More often than not, we don’t make the best choices when we are hungry,” said Bravo, “and that is what we are really trying to drive today — the importance of being mindful of what we are consuming prior to having a snack.”

Molina and ECRMC also hosted another presentation to the Holtville Boys and Girls Club on Monday. This was one of the first times since COVID restrictions that Molina has hosted a health presentation and the first of many to come in the future.

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