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"100 Citizens" Exercise Right To Better Life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry, Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 02:58

Health Program For San Fernando Residents Gaining In Popularity


San Fernando residents, primarily parents and grandparents, are working out more and learning how to prepare healthier meals for their families through a program known as "100 Citizens" at Recreation Park.

From early in the morning, to sometimes late at night, San Fernando's Recreation Park can be a busy place.

It is where adults, primarily parents, have been gathering the past year to learn about nutrition and exercise, and taking that information back to their families as a way to improve general health and wellness.

The programs, under the umbrella name of "100 Citizens," were developed by Prof. Steven Loy, Ph.D., of the Kinesiology Department at Cal State University, Northridge, as a method to start encouraging San Fernando residents to improve their quality of life.

"I originally came to San Fernando three years ago to propose (to the city council) that I could help the city's citizens get healthier," Loy said. "I could do that with undergraduate and graduate students interested in health and wellness in the community.

"A missing link is while people know they need to exercise, they often don't know where to start and what to do."

Loy was looking for the most cost-effective to provide exercise equipment and nutrition tips to large groups of people when he caught a break. City officials had a $75,000 state grant for recreational use, and it provided the funding needed to build an outdoor exercise area in Recreational Park.

The timing was perfect, Loy said.

"Some of San Fernando population don't have access to a health club – either they can't afford it or get there," he said. "There ended up being some dollars the City needed to spend … and there was opportunity to purchase outdoor exercise equipment.

"That made statement to public that something was changing. And I provided that suggestion it was a worthwhile purchase, to put a spotlight on Recreation Park and exercise."

Much of the equipment allows people to do basic and standard exercises without needing expensive machines, Loy said, although there is other, specific equipment, like spin cycles for stationary bike riding.

Ismael Aguila, Recreation and Community Services Operations Manager for the City of San Fernando, said the programs have been a popular attraction.

"The turnout has been really good, over 200 individuals who have enrolled in the programs every week," Aguila said. "We're developing a tool to measure satisfaction and feedback. But, verbally people say they have improved and reached weight loss goals, have increased energy, and lower blood pressure. Those are the ones I've heard the most. And it also gives people a place for social support, and to get active with others.

San Fernando residents, primarily parents and grandparents, are working out more and learning how to prepare healthier meals for their families through a program known as "100 Citizens" at Recreation Park.

"Originally (the programs were) to target parents, to be role models for family, but don't be surprised to see them bringing their kids, and the kids are out there moving with them."

Now Loy is trying to attract a larger, national audience.

A video about the 100 Citizens has been submitted to the Let's Move! organization, developed by first lady Michelle Obama, which is holding a Communities On The Move Video Challenge contest. It is one of 61 entries, from which there will be two winners – one by online vote, and another by a panel of judges.

The winners will be invited to the White House to explain the benefits of their programs in the videos, and to have them shown there. Each winning video must contain healthy eating, physical activity or access to healthy, affordable food.

"The video is an expanded vision of what 100 Citizens can be like," Loy said. "It also explains what kinesiology can do for health. And this is a program that can be replicated across the country."

Those interested in voting for the San Fernando entry may go on the Internet and connect to The "100 Citizens" currently leads the online voting.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 April 2012 05:14