VB Gives Back

#VBGivesBack: Camila Alves McConaughey

October 2015

How did the organization get its name?

While Matthew was filming Dazed and Confused, he was struggling with the passing of his father. As he dealt with that loss, he found that the saying “just keep livin” helped him balance the good and bad times and try to stay positive. When Matthew and I established the Foundation, naming it “just keep livin” was a natural fit. It captured so many aspects of health and well-being and applies to all parts of life. Matthew decided to include his father, “Pop” on the logo to honor his memory.

What is the main focus of just keep livin?

The just keep livin foundation is dedicated to empowering high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. We currently have 19 after school fitness and wellness programs set up in inner-city high schools, where students might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the body and mind connection. Our curriculum is based on four components – fitness, wellness, nutrition and service. In our programs, we encourage students to make positive life choices that improve their physical and mental health through exercise, teamwork, gratitude, nutrition and community service. These kids have a safe place to enhance their lives with fitness coaches and health experts. It’s important to us that we provide our students a positive outlet to go to after school to give them these tools for a healthier future.

What is one of the more shocking facts about high school students?

There are so many that have surprised me. One of the most alarming statistics we found is that the schools we serve have a 50% drop out rate in the 9th grade. However, students who participate in after school programs are staying in school, improving their grades, attendance, and behavior, and they are more likely to graduate on time.

What are a few of the programs you work on?

I love being a part of all aspects of our programs and being involved as much as I possibly can, but I do feel especially connected to the mission of empowering the girls in our programs and providing them with the opportunity to learn more about women’s health. For example, I was able to host a day to educate the girls in our program on breast cancer awareness and preventative measures that they can start at a young age.

Proudest moment since starting just keep livin

Being able to hear kids in the gratitude circle express how just keep livin has kept them out of trouble, out of gangs, drugs, abuse, and helped them see the power of a healthier life, better grades, better relationships with their family, and overall how grateful they are to have a safe place to go to and are able to build a family away from home!

Can you explain the “Gratitude Circle”?

I cry every time! It is the most simple thing but also the most pure and complex at the same time! Kids get to be honest and open about what makes them happy or sad and we provide an environment where they feel safe to share their feelings. We are talking about teenage kids! We all sit in a circle and speak out loud about our gratitudes, and it is a moment of the day where we forget about the hard times and relish in our blessings.

What are you most grateful for?

My husband and kids.

What is your secret weapon?

Sense of humor and proving people wrong when they say I can't do something! 😉

Motherhood in 3 words?

Impossible to describe in 3 words!

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