Jun 20, 2014
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So many kids and bouncing basketballs filled the EM Downer Family YMCA in Richmond on Thursday, one had to duck for cover every so often.

But it was well worth it to watch local youths receive ample exercise and nutritious foods, a combination that will help them dodge the consequences of obesity in a city that begs for safe play areas and better access to healthy meals.

The free youth basketball camp sponsored by Richmond-based Nutiva and the YMCA was by all appearances a total swish. The camp went from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the newly renovated gymnasium on S. 20th Street. Many of the participating kids were from the Richmond Police Athletic League.


Raphael Jemmott, who coaches at Chabot College, did not hesitate when asked to volunteer.

The first part of the day was spent building skills through drills and instruction while the second part included scrimmages. The youths benefited from the knowledge of skilled coaches such as Jeff Mitchell, Nutiva’s vice president of finance. Mitchell has more than a decade of experience coaching CYO and AAU basketball.

“For me it’s just a great opportunity to help out and have fun,” said Mitchell, who also coached at the camp Nutiva sponsored last year.


Jeff Mitchell, Nutiva’s vice president of finance, had a blast teaching youths basketball skills and encouraging healthy eating habits.

Laura Wheat, a Nutiva key account specialist who has also coached youth basketball and played for Contra Costa College, also took part Thursday.

Also volunteering their time were Raphael Jemmott, who coaches at Chabot College, and members of the Pinole Valley High School girls varsity basketball team.

Nutiva’s CEO and Founder John Roulac started the camp and has participated both years. His lifelong love of basketball played a big role in the founding of Nutiva, the world’s fastest-growing organic superfoods brand. The realization that eating unhealthy foods was hurting his game reportedly helped inspire the company’s creation. Nutiva’s core mission is to “nourish people and the planet,” as stated by Roulac in this video from last year’s camp. Thursday’s basketball camp was a part of that mission.

Camp participants were not only treated to nutritious foods, but also went home with this cool t-shirt. The kids were all smiles.



About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.