Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Jennifer Lopez and Her New Leading Role to Help Kids

Working with Boys & Girls Clubs, the superstar and 'Idol' judge gives back to those who helped her as a teen.
By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

So many of us dream of having it all, and then there's Jennifer Lopez.

A plum TV gig as a judge on FOX's American Idol? Check. Recording success, with more than 55 million records sold? Check. Plus a movie career, a clothing line, endorsement deals, a production company, two beautiful children, and a glowing presence that belies any sleep deprivation. It's enough to make the rest of us pull the covers over our heads in the morning and accept defeat.

Recommended Related to Women

Counting Her Blessings

By Lesley Dormen This season, Meredith Vieira is grateful for the right job at the right time, her fabulous kids, her mom's Thanksgiving legacy; and even the tough times that strengthened her marriage. "Sit here," Meredith Vieira says in that delicious butter-pecan scoop of a voice (serious shot through with sexy, the A student who's still up for mischief). She offers me one of two small, straight-backed chairs in her cluttered dressing room/office, pulls up the other — ignoring...

Read the Counting Her Blessings article > >

Yet Lopez, 42, insists that everyone has the capacity for great achievements. In her new role as the first female spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in its 152-year history, Lopez reminds people that "Jenny From the Block," as she once dubbed herself in song, is from a hardscrabble stretch in New York City's South Bronx. In the halls of her local Boys & Girls Club, Kips Bay, Lopez found a mentor who recognized and encouraged her love of music and dance.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (bgca.org) aims to put children on the right track and, against the odds, keep them there. "I'm honored to be an alumna from such a wonderful and celebrated organization," says Lopez, who works alongside actor Denzel Washington, a spokesman for the club for two decades. Like him, she aims to inspire the 4 million kids who show up daily at one of the 4,000 national clubhouses, where they play sports, take classes, eat healthy meals, and engage with mentors and peers in a nurturing environment. "I hope I can give back just a small amount of the encouragement and support I experienced in my young adult years at the Boys & Girls Club. It empowered me, and that's a gift I would like to continue giving," Lopez says. "If I encourage one boy or girl to believe, then I have succeeded."

The Boys & Girls Clubs' Mission

The Boys & Girls Clubs boasts other famous alumni in sports and entertainment, including Kerry Washington, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Usher, Ashanti, and Martin Sheen. Even those who don't go on to fame have a head start on success: Ninety percent of club members graduate from high school, compared with the national average of 74%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

"We provide a safe place where children can learn and grow with adult mentors who love them and won't let them fail," says the clubs’ president and CEO, Roxanne Spillett. "Our vision is that every child who walks in our doors graduates from high school with a plan for the future. Our motto is 'Great futures start here,' and Jennifer is a beautiful example of that."

As the clubs' new voice, Lopez says she encourages children to embrace "empowerment, determination, and passion. Those are the ingredients to fulfilling your dreams." Even more crucial? Learning to take care of yourself, the earlier the better, she says. "No matter how busy or how demanding your life is, you need to ensure you are both physically and mentally fit," says Lopez, who credits plenty of sleep and taking time "just to breathe and clear my mind" for her own sense of feeling centered. Then, and only then, she says, "can you be the best at what you are doing at the moment, working or even being a mother."

Today on WebMD

woman looking in mirror
Article
Woman resting on fitness ball
Evaluator
 
woman collapsed over laundry
Quiz
Public restroom door sign
Slideshow
 
Couple with troubles
Article
Bone density illustration
VIDEO
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 
Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow