Centro Mater announces healthy plans to help fight childhood obesity with $45,000 Health Foundation Grant

Miami's Community Newspapers

Centro Mater Child Care Services, Inc.— a nonprofit organization, currently celebrating its 45th anniversary, that provides quality care and education to economically disadvantaged youths in Miami-Dade County—today announced its plans to utilize a $45,000 grant recently presented to them by the Health Foundation of South Florida. The organization is preparing to use the generous resources to establish a preschool wellness program and launch corresponding curriculum training.

The SPARK Training and Support Initiative (STSI) at Centro Mater will aim to reverse the threat of obesity among the center’s youths through various educational and physical activity efforts, as well as support the training of two Centro Mater staff members in a curriculum developed by SPARK—a research-based, public health organization that focuses to create and help realize kid-focused wellness programs.

“Childhood obesity is a prevalent and growing issue, and it is our goal as a child care organization to help fight the epidemic by giving our youths the tools to live healthy and well-balanced lives,” said Centro Mater Program Director Abilio Rodriguez.

The project will utilize the Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids, Early Childhood (SPARK EC) program, an empirically supported physical activity plan. Centro Mater classrooms will establish goals for levels of moderate and strong physical activity. Additionally, the trained staff members will work to expand all teachers’ knowledge of the SPARK Training and Support Initiative and its many benefits.

To be implemented at all five of Centro Mater’s nationally accredited sites and be executed throughout the school year and summer, the initiative will impact more than 550 youths.

Studies show that Hispanic children—a strong majority of Centro Mater students—are significantly more obese and more likely to be overweight compared to non-Hispanic children. Research has also revealed that obesity among Hispanics appears to begin in early childhood and remain prevalent throughout adolescence and adulthood.

The Health Foundation of South Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of residents in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. By funding providers and supporting programs of which promote health and disease prevention, the foundation has made an immeasurable impact on the wellness of individuals. Since 1993, the foundation has awarded more than $98.6 million in grants and program support.

To learn more about Centro Mater Child Care Services, Inc., visit CentroMater.org or call 305-545-6049, and for additional information about the Health Foundation of South Florida, call 305.374.7200 or visit www.hfsf.org.

About Centro Mater Child Care Services, Inc.
Centro Mater Child Care Services Inc. is a 45-year-old, 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that strives to aid economically disadvantaged families by providing child care and education services. Centro Mater was founded in 1968 by Mother Margarita Miranda Otero, who recognized a desperate need for child care services among newly exiled Cuban families in Miami. The organization’s unwavering mission is, “to provide quality services to disadvantaged children by offering developmentally appropriate experiences conducive to enhancing the child’s potential while empowering and strengthening the families.” With five accredited centers in Miami-Dade County, Centro Mater caters to children 6 weeks to 12 years of age in its effort to help youths prosper and their parents and/or guardians become financially independent. Centro Mater serves children and families of every faith and nationality—nearly 1,200 annually. Since 2007, Centro Mater Child Care Services has been managed and greatly supported by Catholic Health Services (CHS) within the Archdiocese of Miami. For additional information on Centro Mater, visit www.CentroMater.com.

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