Thursday, October 20, 2011

When is a Shark Bite a Healthy Thing?

The San Jose Sharks are a team of tough, big, scrappy and talented hockey players…but they are also deeply committed to their community. No wonder, then, that their entire organization and Foundation are too. Here's a picture of them visiting Valley Medical Center a while back...and our work together continued...

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership between the Sharks Foundation and the VMC Foundation: The San Jose Sharks Pediatric Clinic at VHC Tully!

The clinic is already there at Valley Health Center Tully in San Jose, and serves more than 6,000 children each month! And while it’s long on quality care for kids, it’s short on d├ęcor and inspiration.

Enter the Sharks, who are investing up to $100,000 to “re-imagine” the Clinic. We’ll have Sharks images of players, team colors throughout and of course “Sharkie”, the team mascot everywhere. More than just looking good, the clinic will be full of healthy tips for kids and parents: Take a BITE out of your veggies, drink water not soda, get your exercise and immunizations…all positive messages to match the positive look and feel.

Parents will love it too, and of course this “Legacy Project” will help the Sharks show off their involvement in our community. They already do a lot, but this is a very big deal. Huge thanks to Jeff Cafuir, the Sharks Foundation Manager, for spearheading the project along with our team here at the VMC Foundation and throughout the Sharks organization.

So yes, the Sharks are caring, humble, community-minded idealists…unless of course you meet them on the ice. Wearing an Anaheim Ducks uniform.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reducing soda intake...and all that jazz.

Music is more important to me than most things, and for years I’ve served on the Board of Directors of San Jose Jazz. Our Summerfest is the biggest deal in town every August, bringing 100,000 music lovers together for a weekend of celebration and performance. This year’s was maybe the best festival yet…

…and yet, when going over the books at our last board meeting we noticed something odd as compared to last year. Soda sales were off. WAY off. Like 50% down!

Fifty percent.

Ticket sales, beer, food, weekend weather…all similar to 2010. Could our efforts to promote a “Soda-Free Summer” be working? Well, let’s look at some facts:

  • The Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative (BANPAC, part of the VMC Foundation) has data that shows parents and kids are starting to get the message and reduce soda consumption.
  • There’s been a sharp rise in local media about the dangers of sweetened drinks this year.
  • The American Beverage Association (representing soda makers) recently called Santa Clara County’s anti-soda messages “misleading”. They’re not, and we have reams of data to prove it…but they’re worried, and that’s good.
  • Kaiser Permanente, the biggest supporter of our “Re-Think Your Drink” efforts in Silicon Valley, became a major sponsor of San Jose Jazz’s Summerfest this year!

Yes – this is a big deal. For the first time, KP was a major player in our Jazz Festival, setting up wellness stations around the Salsa Stage (the most physically active of the Summerfest, with non-stop dancing all weekend). They gave away water with fresh lemon to all revelers, promoting a healthier alternative to soda.

My friend, colleague and VMC Foundation Board Member Kathleen King takes all the credit: “My giving up diet soda this year is personally responsible for the decline”, she joked with me yesterday. But she’s on to something: The fight to reduce unhealthy drink intake is going to ultimately be fought one person, one family at a time. And with obesity and diabetes rates still climbing, a fight is exactly what this is. Please, join us—it starting to work!