Miami-Dade Parks’ Fit2Play program gets $25K grant

The Florida Beverage Association (FlaBev) has announced the award of a $25,000 grant to the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department’s Fit2Play after-school program, an evidence-based childhood obesity prevention and healthy living initiative for Miami-Dade youth.

The goal of the FlaBev Grant Program is to support initiatives that advance healthy and environmentally sustainable Florida communities. The FlaBev grant award additionally qualifies Miami-Dade Parks’ Fit2Play for a matching grant from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABFHA).

“FlaBev and its member companies are committed to improving the communities where we live, work, and play. It is important to make sure children and their parents know that nutrition and physical activity are the building blocks of living a vigorous, healthy lifestyle,” said Liz Castro DeWitt, executive director of FlaBev, the trade association for Florida’s non-alcoholic beverage industry.

“I would like to extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to the FlaBev for providing this much-needed grant award to our Parks Department’s Fit2Play program,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.

“These funds will further supplement their great strides in bettering our children’s lives,” her added.

“Thanks to the FlaBev grant and their partnership with the Fit2Play program, we will be able to reach more kids and parents, providing them with additional tools and support for making healthy eating and active living part of their daily routine,” said Jack Kardys, Miami-Dade Parks director. “With a proven program, studied and endorsed by the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, we will continue to see positive results.”

Miami-Dade Parks’ Fit2Play program will utilize the FlaBev grant funding to:
• Increase provisions of healthy beverages, after-school;
• Supplement current health and wellness curriculum with information about healthy beverage choices;
• Target parents with take-home and email information, beverage tasting days, food and beverage demonstrations and monthly healthy cooking, beverage and meal plans;
• Promote the joint partnership with the FlaBev, and
• Expand social media messaging through sponsored labeled collaterals (shirts, water bottles).

Launched in 2005 as a health and wellness solution for children living in Miami-Dade County, the Fit2Play program serves approximately 7,000 low-income youth annually at 35 parks and seven special disability services parks county-wide. The daily Fit2Play curriculum is comprised of: (1) “SPARK” (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids), an evidenced-based, structured active recreation program focused on developing and improving motor skills, movement knowledge, social and personal skills; and (2) “EmpowerMe4Life,” a nutrition education curriculum grounded in the American Heart Association’s scientific recommendations in promoting heart-healthy lifestyles.

Miami-Dade Parks’ Fit2Play program took the national spotlight at the 2014 and 2015 NRPA National Congress and the 2014 American Public Health Association annual meetings, lauding them as a national model in the fight against childhood obesity and providing park systems and public health professionals from around country with guidance in successfully incorporating the program.

In May 2014, the City Parks Alliance International Webinar also featured Miami-Dade Parks Fit2Play as a “best-practice” world model.

Kardys, in his additional post as president of the Florida Parks and Recreation Association, is in the process of rolling out Fit2Play as the standard practice for all parks within the State of Florida parks system, in support of the Florida Surgeon General’s “Healthy Weight Initiative”. In addition, Kardys continues to share his national vision for Fit2Play as a member of the NRPA Board of Directors.


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