Meet the Little Chef: Jaylynn


On August 25th, the 6th Annual Little Chef, Big Chef competition – presented by Whole Foods Market – will take place at The Ordinary. With just a few days left until the big day, we want to take some time to talk a little about one of the four all-star kids from the Louie’s Kids program that will be participating at this year’s event. A remarkable young lady named Jaylynn.

The path to health is not an easy one. But when you have someone there walking it with you, the steps become a little more manageable. The journey becomes a little less daunting. It’s for that reason that we here at Louie’s Kids are so committed to working with families as a whole – not just the children – and why we are so proud of Jaylynn and her family. They have all rallied together in their resolve to living a healthier life, and the commitment they’ve shown is something we won’t soon forget.

At only 12 years old, Jaylynn has been through a lot. As with so many other children, the gravity of her situation didn’t really hit home until she was faced with some devastating medical news. Jaylynn was diagnosed with diabetes. Rather than retreating from such difficult news as so many do, Jaylynn made the admirable and courageous decision to do something about it. And her family was right there with her to make sure she had the support she needed. Leading the charge was Jaylynn’s stepmother, Tabitha. After her first meeting with the Louie’s Kids team, it was clear that Tabitha was just as committed as her daughter. The issue was knowing where to start. Together with Louie’s Kids, the family set some immediate and achievable goals for Jaylynn to get her more active, and she met them with the determination and resolve we’ve come to know and love.

Of all the activities Jaylynn has taken on since joining the program, it’s basketball that has grown into a passion. Little did she know that hiding within her was an athlete waiting to come out! And her family has been nothing short of supportive of her new active lifestyle, enrolling her in camps and getting her over to the court whenever possible. But they don’t just stop there! Since the grocery store tour, a Louie’s Kids program they took part in earlier this year, Jaylynn and her family are now looking at the ingredients and the nutrition facts on all foods they purchase and are picking out leaner meat with less fat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthier snacks. They’ve also adopted a monthly “weigh in and log in” competition for their household to keep everyone motivated. Jaylynn has even been known to join Tabitha at her dance classes – a great way to get some exercise in! It is that level of family commitment that has made all the difference in Jaylynn’s journey.

As with our other Little Chefs, Jaylynn was selected to participate in Camp Shane this summer. Just as they’ve done every step of the way, her family was the first to offer their support, going so far as to drive a group of campers all the way to Georgia. While it was challenging for Jaylynn to leave her family for the first time she tackled the challenge head on, just like we knew she would. And we’re proud to share with everyone that, while at Camp Shane, Jaylynn was able to lose nearly 10lbs!

With your continued support we are able to help kids just like Jaylynn get the support they need to live a happier and healthier life. If you want to help us celebrate Jaylynn, join us for this year’s Little Chef, Big Chef event, presented by Whole Foods Market with additional sponsor Southwest Airlines, on August 25th at The Ordinary. You can learn more about the event here.


Meet the Little Chef: Jykoria

lcbc jykoria family

On August 25th, the 6th Annual Little Chef, Big Chef competition – presented by Whole Foods Market – will take place at The Ordinary. This year, four all-star kids from the Louie’s Kids program will partner with four of the city’s top chefs for one unforgettable evening. One of the special Little Chefs participating this year is Jykoria.

If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a thousand times: health begins at home. Having the support of family is crucial for children who are looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There is no stronger testament to the power of family than our very own Jykoria. With the support of her mother and brother, she has turned her lifestyle around and is well on her way to achieving her goals.

Jykoria struggled with her weight from a young age. It wasn’t until she entered into her middle school years that the physical and emotional effects really started to take their toll. She faced constant bullying and would retreat to her home each day after school, seeking solace and comfort in food – a far too common trend in youth today. She would watch as the other children in her neighborhood played outside and rode their bikes, but never felt quite comfortable enough to join them. Jykoria’s mother Jawanda saw her daughter’s health and spirit taking a hit and decided it was time to make a change. Having lost 30lbs herself the year prior, Jawanda knew firsthand how a healthy lifestyle can change everything. So she set out to provide Jykoria with the tools and support she would need to take that step for herself. And Jykoria seized the opportunity like she does everything in her life, with a smile on her face and determination in her heart.

Since joining the Louie’s Kids program in January, Jykoria has proven to be the model participant. She sets goals for herself and works as hard as needed to meet them. She’s replaced her sedentary lifestyle with a much more active one and even enjoys riding bikes with her neighborhood friends after school. Perhaps most importantly, Jykoria has really come into her own and, as a result, others are seeing her for the wonderful and charismatic young woman she is.

As we write this, Jykoria is taking Camp Shane by storm. She has taken up jogging and has already met the goals she set for herself before heading out! We know it was a challenge for her to take this step and leave home for the first time, but the unwavering support of her mother and brother was all she needed to take it. She knows that she has them cheering her along every step of the way, anxiously awaiting her return. As we mentioned before, and time and time again, the support of parents and family can make all the difference in these children’s lives as they go through our programs and choose health.

With your continued support, we are able to help kids just like Jykoria get active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you want to help us celebrate Jykoria and her family,  join us for this year’s Little Chef, Big Chef event, presented by Whole Foods Market with additional sponsor Southwest Airlines, on August 25th at The Ordinary. You can learn more about the event here.


Run Buddies made it over the bridge

The 13 students who participated in the most recent Louie’s Kids Run Buddies program might never have thought they could make it 6.2 miles over the Ravenel Bridge along with 40,000 adults, serious runners and elites. But more than three months of twice-weekly training sessions got them more than ready to accomplish the ultimate Charleston-area fitness challenge.

Run Buddies started as a one-on-one running program. One run coach would mentor one middle-school aged participant over the course of 12-16 weeks. The program has evolved into a group of volunteers and young runners. Louie’s Kids holds one or two sessions each year in partnerships with middle schools around Charleston. The most recent program leading up to the bridge run met at Mount Pleasant Recreation Center and included 12 East Cooper Montessori School students and one from Lange Middle School.

“My favorite part was watching myself get better,” said participant Lexi who joined Run Buddies because she already enjoyed running.

Students enjoyed fun, social physical activity outside while making friends, improving their fitness and working toward a collective goal. “I joined because I wanted to lose weight, feel better about myself and make it easier for the future,” participant Sam said. “My favorite part was that I accomplished my goal.”

Sessions started after school, with a snack and water, time to change, a spring/jog/run, and stretch session. Then runners broke up into groups on three tracks clustered by speed. Run buddies ran different routes around the rec center and I’On at different paces, some working up from walks to runs.

Louie’s Kids Director of Programs Deanna Smith has seen participants discover an ongoing love for running. One Run Buddy even came back this year after participating in a 2013 5K Run Buddies program. Another student used to find his only physical outlet in karate and had never run before. “He’s been so determined and setting goals. He’s fallen in love with running, it’s great to see,” Smith said.

Louie’s Kids is looking to start the next Run Buddies program in the fall of 2014.  A school needs to have at least 12-15 children interested and at least one faculty member who can commit to helping out. Contact us to see how you could bring Run Buddies to your child’s school.

Filed under: General Nutrition

The Importance of Nutrition in School Lunches and How We Can Help Decrease Obesity Rates Among Children

The Importance of Nutrition in School Lunches and How We Can Help Decrease Obesity Rates Among Children, By Amanda Piret

Nutrition and obesity are rapidly becoming the primary concerns of public health. Thirty-five percent of children in the U.S. are overweight, or obese. The CDC predicts that one in three Americans will suffer from type 2 diabetes by 2050. For the first time in U.S. history, children born today have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

More than 16 percent of children in South Carolina are obese, with more than 83 percent receiving no daily physical education in school. Very few South Carolina children or adults meet their daily recommended values of fruits and vegetables, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. These issues need to be addressed. Poor health trends will only continue to get worse and raise a higher concern to our population.

Nutrition begins at home, but the public sphere and school community can also significantly impact children’s health. “Many children consume at least half of their meals at school, and for many children, food served at school may be the only food they regularly eat,” according to Changes at public school will start the change toward healthier kids. Some strategies and improvements are already underway to prevent and reduce rates of obesity in children. For example, The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 focuses on nutrition of children in school lunches. Schools that meet the new guidelines outlined in the act receive an additional $.06 per meal reimbursement. The act focuses on portion sizes based on students’ age. It emphasizes lower-fat dairy and leaner proteins that were not available before. More fruits, vegetables and whole grains are offered, and the act designs school meals to meet one-third of daily caloric needs of students. The only sweetened beverages allowed are flavored skim milks, and trans and saturated fats are limited.

Enacting healthy practices at home also helps kids live healthier, balanced and more nutritious lives. To promote healthy eating in a child it is recommended that children have regular family meals, cook more meals at home, get more involved, make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks and limit portion sizes. Some healthy lunch ideas for children to take to school are listed below. Be creative but be sure to limit sugars and salt!

  • Wraps (Whole-grain wraps filled with turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato)
  • Low-fat yogurt (it’s calcium and protein-rich)
  • 100% Juice, Juice Box
  • Fruit salad or fruit slices
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Celery with peanut butter topped with raisins.


Filed under: Little Chef Big Chef

LITTLE Chefs Get a BIG Surprise

LCBC kids in front of whole foods

It’s days like today that really make you pause, sit back and appreciate all that is good in the world. As you probably know, Louie’s Kids is having their annual fundraiser Little Chef Big Chef on August 25 at The Ordinary. The children who are participating as this year’s Little Chefs have something else to look forward to before making their big kitchen debuts: they will all be attending a health and wellness summer camp, thanks to the generous donations Louie’s Kids continues to receive from the community. Today, Louis got the children and their parents together for a lunch at Whole Foods to go over some of the last few details for camp…but he had a few other surprises in store.

Louis speaking to LCBC kids at lunch

While everyone was enjoying their healthy lunch, graciously donated by the LCBC title sponsor Whole Foods, Louis gave each one of the children the opportunity to talk through how they were feeling with camp just a few days away. Keep in mind, for some of these kids it’s their first time away from home (which I wasn’t sure who seemed more anxious at lunch, the children or the parents!) but all of them were nothing short of excited. At the end of the chat Louis introduced Beezer Molten, a close friend of his, to the group. Louis proceeded to tell the children and their parents that Beezer, who started Half-Moon Outfitters some 21 years ago, was donating gear and clothing from his stores to each of the kids for them to take to camp! The kids (and their parents) faces lit up! Immediately they started going through the gift bags, pulling out sunglasses, t-shirts, shoes, flip-flops, pullovers, bathing suits…and the list goes on!

beezer handing donated items to LCBC

LCBC child opening donated shoes

I was sitting next to Mrs. Brown at the time and was chatting with her about her son Rayshawn’s upcoming trip, the gifts from Half-Moon and what Louie’s Kids has meant to him over the past 2 years. She is so proud of Rayshawn and could not stop expressing her appreciation. Sitting across from me were Adrian and his mother, who I am fairly certain said she was fighting back tears at the sight of the gifts. You see, these donations covered nearly all the “must-have” items listed for camp, and with them these kids are more motivated than ever.

half-moon donated items to louie's kids

Like I said, it takes a day like today to remind you of all that is good in the world. It was inspiring to hear the parents discussing their desire to join in their children’s new healthy and active lifestyle, from them coaching themselves on the activities their kids will be taking part in at camp, to even trying out a few new healthy recipes for meals when they return. And even though the gifts from Half-Moon were a big hit with everyone, I feel like Beezer’s lasting contribution to the children was the advice he shared with them. Beezer, who fittingly enough is an avid outdoorsman where fear of the unknown is a part of his daily routine, left them with these wise words should they ever get discouraged while away: “Fear is a part of everyday life, but it is something you HAVE to work through.”

whole foods grill

 Find Little Chef Big Chef event details here!