Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression while boosting self-esteem and brain activity.  In fact, exercise has many of the same effects on the brain as antidepressant medications because it triggers the release of serotonin (the happy hormone), yet 70% of high school students don’t meet the recommended daily amount of physical activity.

In the JKL program, 95% of students get more exercise

Some fitness activities include:

  • Learning about weight training and the proper use of exercise equipment
  • Setting  and achieving safe and realistic goals
  • Team building activities and team sports
  • Guided group workouts (including outside instructors for yoga, Zumba, etc.)


Good nutrition decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.  Healthy eating habits result in a sense of emotional well-being and serve to stabilize mood.  Unfortunately, however, 33% of adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese.

In the JKL program, 94% of students make healthier eating choices.

Some nutrition components include:

  • Recipes: provided to give healthy meal options on a budget for students and their families
  • Outings: trips to restaurants and farmers markets to get hands-on experience
  • Cooking Demonstrations: by chefs, nutritionists and representatives from area Food Banks
  • Healthy snacks and water: provided at each program meeting


Being healthy is not just about an active body, it’s also about an active mind. This component of our program encourages students to gain an understanding of the mind and body connection. We believe the right mindset is important to make healthy choices and exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body. Gratitude is a powerful emotion and a potent antidote to negativity because it doesn’t depend on your life circumstances. The expression of gratitude triggers the brain to release the feel-good hormone dopamine, leading to feelings of happiness and contentment. If practiced regularly, gratitude can keep you healthier and happier – more likely to recognize what’s going right instead of always looking at the problem.

In the JKL program, 90% of students feel increased gratitud

Some wellness activities include:

  • Gratitude Circle: A place to be grateful for what you have and what you’ve accomplished
  • Guest Speakers: Ranging from actors and athletes to executives and fitness professionals, they inspire and inform students and elaborate on the quote.
  • Positive incentives: Gear and outings such as sporting events and camping trips
  • Journals: A place for students to set goals and reflect. These also include inspirational quotes.
  • Community of Support: Connecting diverse students who support each other during and after the program

Community Service

The service aspect of the just keep livin program encourages students to give back in their own communities. Two times each semester, they are empowered with the opportunity to attend service events where they can have a direct, local impact and make giving back a real part of their lives. When you perform acts of kindness, you raise your serotonin levels and improve your immune function, so the act of giving back is physically good for you.  Contributing to the well-being of others is empowering and increases feelings of dignity and self-worth. 

In the JKL program, 94% of students increase their participation in community service events.  Each year, more than 7200 hours of community service are performed across the country.

Some service activities include:

  • Beautifying schools in conjunction with City Year
  • Cleaning up the local beaches with Heal The Bay
  • Putting together care packages for the troops with Operation Gratitude
  • Packing holiday food boxes with regional Food Banks
“jkl has had a positive impact on our school environment, as our kids have somewhere positive that they can be after school. Many of our students are not in a hurry to go home, as there is often not much positive to go home to. For 4 hours a week, they can at least participate in positive activities and have fun in a safe environment with a family atmosphere. Many of our students will never travel outside of their immediate neighborhood in which they live. Our field trips and community service activities have brought great pleasure to our jkl kids, as they get to experience new events and places that they would not otherwise get to do. I always have kids stopping me in the hallway asking, ‘what are we doing in jkl this week?’ or ‘where are we going this month?’”
Mark Finlay
Eastern Hills High School, Fort Worth, TX