Thunder Fit Clinic - Cheyenne Middle School

As Scott Brooks and his Thunder coaching staff took the court to show a group of 60 sixth-graders how to be fit and healthy, everyone on the sidelines smiled at the sight of the basketball pros leading the students in drills.

Kelly Epperson was no exception.

Epperson serves as promotions and marketing manager for Homeland, an Oklahoma-based grocery chain that serves as the presenting sponsor for the Thunder Fit Clinics.

Wednesday’s clinic at Edmond’s Cheyenne Middle School emphasized making good choices in selecting both what you eat and how you spend your time. The kids were told – and shown – that even making small choices to eat better and be more active will add up over time into a healthier lifestyle.

Making more nutritious choices is something Homeland has been promoting for years.

“We’re (making) an effort for all of our customers to help them shop healthier,” Epperson said.

“It’s very important for people to learn healthy eating habits from a young age. The younger you are when you learn them, the easier it is to maintain health throughout your life.”

In addition to partnering with the Thunder for Fit Clinics, shopping sprees for needy families and other programs, Homeland has made shopping for healthier foods in their store easier with a simple system found right on their shelves.

The company has implemented the Guiding Stars system, a patented nutrition-rating system that awards every food item zero to three stars, based on the food’s nutritional content per 100 calories. Epperson noted that Homeland believes the simplicity of the system is key to people using it.

“Even a three-year-old can count to three. It’s very easy; there’s no guessing … it’s a great program for across-the-board nutritional health.”

Just like the Guiding Stars program, the Thunder Fit Clinics offer an element of simplicity, but they also offer another important factor in encouraging healthy lives: fun. “Actually studying nutrition, unless you’re a nutritionist, is quite boring and mind-boggling,” Epperson quipped.

Trying to teach kids about nutrition from chalkboards and textbooks can get you a “deer in the headlights look,” she noted. “They want to go play on the playground. So (the Thunder Fit Clinic) is a great way to combine the play on the playground with the nutrition at the same time.”

“What we say is: your diet is king, exercise is queen.”

When kids have fun and get excited about healthy eating and active lifestyles, their enthusiasm is more likely to keep them on the right track, as well as to get them talking about these topics with their parents.

The excitement around this program isn’t limited to the kids participating.

“We’re so excited about being involved with the Thunder,” said Epperson. “The Thunder has just risen – to use their word – in such a short time, and we really value our partnership.”

Whether it’s serving the community with Thunder Fit Clinics or stocking the ubiquitous Thunder car flags in their stores, Homeland continues to find ways in which the Thunder helps them meet their goals of serving the community, in one way or another.

“Our objective is not just to sell groceries,” she noted. “We know that without the communities we serve, we have no business … It’s very important to continue to give back.”

Even the Thunder flags serve as a reminder to Homeland shoppers and fans everywhere that the Thunder is an important part of this community.

“It’s our team. It’s Oklahoma’s team,” Epperson said.