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Mario Lopez joins Boys & Girls Clubs' youth advocacy campaign

Posted: May 20, 2009 5:10 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2009 8:22 p.m.
 
LOS ANGELES -- As part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America's (BGCA) new advocacy campaign - BE GREAT - longtime TV star and Boys & Girls Club alum Mario Lopez today unveiled a new billboard on Sunset Boulevard featuring his childhood picture and the aspirational message - BE A STAR.

Lopez joins some 25 prominent alumni in the new advocacy campaign to help increase public awareness and understanding about the key issues facing America's youth, and the positive impact of Clubs.

From academic failure and gang violence to poverty, drugs and obesity, America's young people face a daunting array of problems - with serious consequences and fewer safety nets at home and in the community.

According to a 2007 BGCA alumni survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 57 percent of alumni reported, "The Club saved my life," while another 28 percent credited Boys & Girls Clubs with keeping them in school.

"Growing up in the Club gave me the opportunity to explore many interests and talents, including wrestling and dancing, that have profoundly influenced my life," Lopez said. "The staff at the Club kept us focused, and instilled virtues and traits in us that remain to this day. I am excited to get this message out about the impact Boys & Girls Clubs have on young people, because I'm one of them."

Lopez's theme - BE A STAR - ties to his success as a performer, first in sports and later entertainment. He learned to wrestle at the Boys & Girls Club in Chula Vista, California, near the Mexican border, "where the opportunity to get into trouble in the streets was a constant." He won acclaim for his wrestling at the Club and eventually won the state championship.

Lopez gained stardom during his work as high school jock A.C. Slater on the NBC sitcom Saved By The Bell; the long running program celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year. Lopez has gone on to host several TV shows, and serves today as the single host of the popular nationally-syndicated program EXTRA.

He can also be seen hosting MTV's highest rated program, the adrenaline fueled America's Best Dance Crew. Lopez also gained a wide following for his dancing prowess on the ABC hit Dancing With The Stars. A man of many talents, Lopez has also penned the book Mario Lopez's Knockout Fitness, a guide for men and women looking to lead fit and healthy lifestyles. This fall, he will release Mud Tacos, a children's book he co-wrote with his sister Marissa.

In addition to unveiling the billboard, Lopez recently visited the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood, where he was greeted by screams from more than 100 young members. a

During his visit he taped a web film about the positive impact the Club played in his life, which will become one of several short films of prominent BGCA alumni. The piece will debut on BGCA's web site BeGreatAmerica.org in June, and will also appear on BGCA's pages on social networking sites including Facebook and YouTube.

Lopez also debuted the BE GREAT campaign in Spanish, unveiling a version of his billboard featuring the headline SE LO MAXIMO. BGCA will produce a variety of print and broadcast pieces for the Latino/Hispanic media, including Lopez and others.

Other Club alumni joining Lopez in the BE GREAT advocacy campaign include: Academy Award-winning actor and national spokesperson for BGCA - Denzel Washington, Muhammad Ali, Ashanti, Swin Cash, Gen. Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Queen Latifah, John Mellencamp, Edward James Olmos, Shaquille O'Neal, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Rollins, Martin Sheen, John Singleton, Ruben Studdard, Usher, Courtney Vance, Mark Wahlberg, and Kerry Washington.

"We are very excited about Mario Lopez joining the BE GREAT campaign, and his willingness to help us impact the lives of the young people who need us most," said BGCA President and CEO Roxanne Spillett. "His story is a textbook case of how the Boys & Girls Club experience can help shape a life, and we are so proud of all that he has accomplished - and he is still a young man."

Lopez will collaborate with BGCA and other alumni to urge the country's political and business leaders to make the young people of America a priority and encourage every citizen to make a difference by supporting organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs - ensuring that every child has a safe, supervised and structured environment during the critical after-school hours.

About BE GREAT
BE GREAT is a nationwide initiative by Boys & Girls Clubs of America to highlight the major issues affecting today's young people, and the key role community-based organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs play in helping kids graduate from high school, achieve a healthy lifestyle and develop good character traits. The integrated campaign, created pro bono by McCann Worldgroup in San Francisco, focuses on successful alumni who serve as living proof that Club programs work. It includes a new Web site (BeGreatAmerica.org) where the general public can find useful resources and compelling stories about the diverse lives touched by Boys & Girls Clubs. The site also includes a Club locator to help visitors find a nearby Boys & Girls Club where every child is welcome and volunteer support is appreciated.

The billboard featuring Mario Lopez is the latest in a series of ads depicting the childhood photos of Club alumni, the BE GREAT message and Web address. Thanks to a partnership with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the lead trade association representing the outdoor advertising industry, thousands of billboard ads will be donated by local companies across the country. In Los Angeles, CBS Outdoor has committed to posting boards, free of charge, for Boys & Girls Clubs throughout 2009, and debuted the Lopez BE A STAR board on an electronic billboard on Sunset Boulevard at the intersection of Crescent Heights.

Additional campaign components include: TV/radio PSAs, print ads, outreach to teens via BGCA's My Club My Life Web site (myclubmylife.com) and a YouTube channel, an op-ed series addressing key issues facing young people, and issue-based forums and media templates to help local Clubs advocate on behalf of youth.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (bgca.org) has helped kids "Be Great," providing hope and opportunity for those who need it most. Today, more than 4,300 Clubs serve some 4.5 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Known as The Positive Place for Kids, Boys & Girls Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military bases worldwide, providing young people 6-18 years old with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Clubs positively impact lives and help young people reach their full potential as productive, caring citizens. Key programs emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; technology training; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Locally, the Boys & Girls Club of the SCV operates three clubs in the Santa Clarita Valley.

About OAAA
The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) is the lead trade association representing the outdoor advertising industry. Founded in 1891, the OAAA is dedicated to promoting, protecting and advancing outdoor advertising interests in the US. With nearly 1,100 member companies, the OAAA represents more than 90 percent of industry revenues. The OAAA's strategic focus is on government relations, marketing, communications, membership, and operations. For more information, please visit oaaa.org.

The BE GREAT outdoor ads are part of a nationwide partnership between BGCA and OAAA, resulting in the posting of out-of-home messaging across the country in a variety of venues, including billboards, bus shelters, shopping malls, taxi tops and airports. BGCA was named an OAAA national public service partner in 2008.

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