By Chris Frost
Oxnard— The 2019 Day for Kids was a joyful day full of love, hope, fun and promise for a great future.
The event, hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, had lots of fun activities like a rock wall, and a vertical leap harness. Children sang and participated in a fun freestyle hula hoop event hosted by Hattie Hooper.
The day also featured lots of great informational booths for people who want to improve their life and health.
Executive Director Officer Erin Antrim said the entire organization is proud to hold the free day for families and kids in Oxnard.
“The whole point is to spend quality time with children and parents,” she said. “We’ve got 50 community agencies here this year. Last year we had about 30. They’re providing resources to the kids and families in Oxnard and Port Hueneme.”
The event continues to grow each year, she said, and the 2019 day will feature approximately 3,500 kids and families.
“The planning process is about six months,” she said. “After the event, people ask when the event is next year. They want to come back because they get so much reach and they get to share with so many people.”
Antrim said the kids continue to grow socially, emotionally and physically each year because of their experiences with the Boys & Girls Club.
“We have a lot of teens that are young adults out here volunteering,” she said. “When they age out of the Boys & Girls Club at 18, they come back year-after-year.”
She pointed to the 2010 youth of the year, who came back to help out.
“She’s here today because she knows how much this event means to the community and the Boys & Girls Club,” she said.
Councilman Oscar Madrigal attended the celebration and said the Boys and Girls Club does a great job developing future leaders in the community.
“It’s an important event for our youth,” he said. “It’s important for the kids to be here, but it’s also for adults and others to see many of the kids’ talents. They’re enjoying themselves and having a great time.”
Supervisor John Zaragoza decided not to try the rock wall or the vertical leap and leave that fun for the kids.
“It’s important that we celebrate the day for children, all the families, the moms, dads, and siblings,” he said. “This is fantastic because kids will remember that. It’s important that we do that every year.”
He’s been supporting the effort for 15 years, he said, starting when he was a council member.
“The Boys and Girls Club has such a good record with afterschool programs, the latchkey kids, and also the graduation rate is fantastic. Erin and the board do a great job for the community.”
Assistant Police Chief Eric Sonstegard said the day for kids is always great.
“They do a fantastic job,” he said. “This is what we want to see the kids doing out here, having fun out in the sun and hanging out with their friends and family.”
Angie Monroe and her daughter Yvette planned to give the petting zoo a try.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said. “This is our first time doing something the city is involved with.”
Yvette said the animals at the petting zoo look cute.
“I like the white chicks,” she said. “I’ve been to the Boys & Girls Club, and we get to play.”
American Medical Response (AMR) was teaching children sidewalk and bystander CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) with three easy steps.
“Our goal is that every cardiac arrest that happens out in public has a bystander CPR,” Paramedic Kristin Seabrook said. “Witnesses can start doing CPR before we get there. That increases the survival rate.”
Step one for bystander CPR is shake-and-shout, followed by calling 911. If the person is not responsive, then chest compressions.
“There’s no pulse check,” she said.
Seabrook enjoys engaging the community and teaching bystander CPR.
“We want everyone to feel confident before we get there,” she said.
The Center for Employment Training (CET) offered valuable information to people looking to make a fresh start in a new career.
“We train you as a medical assistant, front or back office at a doctor’s office in the morning or evening,” Community Outreach Coordinator Monique Marquez said. “We also have building construction training, which is plumbing, carpentry or insulation. We also have job placement for life.”
She enjoys educating people about all the choices available.
“It’s beautiful to see all these kids and parents involved,” she said. “I am honored to be part of this event.”
Hattie Hopper led a spirited hula hoop session that got many kids up and moving to the beat.
Hopper displayed a high energy performance and said the hula hoop changed her life forever.
“My best friend introduced me to this $6 hula hoop,” she said. “We started hula hooping every day, and I got into the best shape of my life. It’s my passion, and it gives me so much joy.”
She isn’t sure if she has more fun than the kids, but they hula hoop together.
“It took me some time to learn to hoop, but the hula hoops are water weighted,” she said. “They told me it was like cheating because they stay up because of the centrifugal force of the water.”
Hooper doesn’t have any of her own kids, so her hula hoop kids became hers.
“I go home and practice a lot because I have to keep up with them,” Hooper said. “Every Wednesday, I am here (at the Boys and Girls Club) from 2:30 until 5 p.m. and we hula hoop the whole time. We create characters, and we are building a whole community of Hattie’s Hoopers. The Hopperhood Kids.”
Being a big hula hoop fan keeps her in great shape.
“I also teach healthy habits and nutrition,” she said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme is located at 1900 W. Fifth Street in Oxnard.