Miami-Dade County Parks help kids stay fit for life

When making that back-to-school checklist, your child’s health and wellbeing should top that list. The Miami- Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, in its long-standing commitment to help keep our community’s kids healthy and fit, invites parents to register their children, ages 6-14, in its “Fit-to-Play: Health, Wellness and Obesity Prevention” Out-of-School Program.

Kids will enjoy fun, fully supervised programming after school with activities focused on fitness, nutrition and wellness, and developing their appreciation of nature, science and the cultural arts. The program operates at 34 sites Monday through Friday, 2 to 6 p.m., throughout the school year, including school vacation breaks, through June 6, 2013.

“Our evidence-based fitness and wellness program encourages kids to stay healthy and active throughout their lives, and prepares them with life skills that will help them to reach their full potential and to become better citizens,” said Jack Kardys, Miami-Dade County Parks director. Each day’s session begins with homework help, followed by Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) activities. SPARK is an evidence-based, outcome-oriented active recreation component of the Out-of-School program, dedicated to improving the quantity and quality of physical activity that children engage in. It is designed to develop and improve motor skills, movement knowledge, and social and personal skills.

With parental permission, Miami-Dade County Parks will track and measure key health indicators in participants, such as blood pressure and Body Mass Index (BMI), assisting parents and children to make informed decisions about their fitness and nutrition needs. Upon completion of the programs, participants will know how much their fitness levels have improved through charted documentation.

For the third consecutive year, Miami-Dade County Parks has partnered with the University of Miami UHealth System, engaging it to provide oversight of its Out-of- School Program’s health, wellness and obesity prevention initiatives. UHealth also provides all of the health testing and education components for these programs.

This unique program aimed at making fitness fun for kids of all ages and abilities, includes children with disabilities. Under the supervision of Miami-Dade Parks certified therapeutic recreation specialists, children with disabilities can choose to participate alongside children without disabilities or at sites exclusively made up of children with disabilities.

Miami-Dade County Parks offers transportation to pick up children at nearby schools and transport them to the program at select park sites for an additional charge.

For more information, call 3-1-1 or visit Miami-Dade Parks’ website at

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