News Release Header
For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2011

Media Contact:
Laura Phillips
laf@miamidade.gov
305-755-7842



NFL Charities Funds First Ever Virtual Fitness Arcade for the Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department


(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- 
NFL Charities has awarded the NFL Youth Education Town (YET) program at Gwen Cherry Park, a $25,000 grant to establish a new Youth Health and Fitness Arcade for children participating in its various programs. Gwen Cherry Park is a Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department (MDPR) public and private partnership site.

Each year, NFL Charities allocates significant programmatic funds toward the existing YET locations around the country to implement NFL-identified programs that focus on youth health and fitness and individual empowerment. As the result of this funding, one of the classrooms at the NFL YET at Gwen Cherry Park, will be made over to provide an interactive fitness and gaming experience where children can play virtual reality games, while they exercise their bodies.

"As childhood obesity is emerging as one of our nation's top public health threats, Miami-Dade Parks remains committed to the goal of empowering youth to get fit and healthy," said MDPR Director Jack Kardys. "The Arcade will be implemented as a pilot project for our parks system."

Slated to open on June 13 for the start of MDPR's summer camps, the facility will contain eight game bikes that are equipped with consoles/game controls for monitoring the participant's exercise progress on virtual excursions that run the gambit from biking and automobile racing to hill climbing and All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) games.

"Through such innovative recreational programs as this, that combine exercise and virtual interactive games, we hope to encourage children to increase their physical activity and find enjoyment in developing a healthier lifestyle," said H.T. Smith, Esq., Chairman for the Gwen Cherry Park Foundation, a MDPR partner that also supports funding efforts for the Center.

Children using the virtual exercise equipment will have the opportunity to compete against the clock or each other and vie for recognition as gamer for the week and month. Other motion fitness games like Dance Revolution and Wii Fit varieties are also planned for the Arcade.

"As we observed that kids at our facility were only using the more mainstream exercise equipment, such as the weight machines, stationary bikes and treadmills during the football season, we realized that we needed something more to inspire them to maintain their workout throughout the year," said Bobby Johnson, MDPR's Manager for the NFL YET at Gwen Cherry Park.

The new facility is best described as a fitness center hybrid, combining the elements of a health club with playground features enhanced by technology-in many ways like a video game come to life.

"Through these activities, kids will increase their aerobic capacity, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility," said Johnson.

The project will continue year-round, however, it will be measured for effectiveness with a pilot group of 24 children from our summer camp program, during the months of June, July and August.

Opened in 1996, The NFL YET at Gwen Cherry Park is a result of the NFL's commitment to enhance the lives of at-risk youth in cities that host the Super Bowl. The third of its kind in the nation and the only NFL YET in Miami-Dade County, the 22,000-square-foot facility contains computer areas for robotics learning, arts and crafts, and fitness. There's also a library, a gymnasium, and staff offices. A 5,000-square-foot media studio will be added this year. The 38.5-acre park has a recreational pool, a splash island; tennis and basketball courts; fields for softball, baseball and football; a track; a concession building; stadium bleachers; and sports lighting throughout the facilities. MDPR operates the facility, but collaborates with its partners the Miami Dolphins, former NFL players, the Gwen Cherry Park Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Miami, and the Communities in Schools of Miami for daily programming.

The new Arcade will be open weekdays. For information about other programs at this facility, including summer camps, visit the NFL YET at Gwen Cherry Park, 7090 N. W. 22 Ave., Miami, or call 305-694-4889.

About NFL Charities
NFL Charities is a non-profit organization created by the 32 member clubs of the National Football League to enable the teams to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes on a national scale.  Since its inception, NFL Charities has granted more than $140 million to more than 1,400 different organizations. NFL Charities' primary funding categories include sports-related medical research and education grants; player foundation grants in support of the philanthropic work of current and former NFL players; youth health and fitness initiatives, including educational programs with national partners supplementing the charitable activities of the 32 NFL clubs; and financial assistance to former NFL players in need.

About the Miami-Dade Park and Recreation Department (MDPR)
Nationally accredited, a three-time winner of the National Gold Medal Award, 2009 Florida Governor's Sterling Award winner for excellence in management and operations, MDPR is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 263 parks and more than 12,848 acres of land.  It is one of the most unique park and recreation systems in the world.  Made up of more than just playgrounds and athletic fields, it also comprises out-of-school, sports-development, and summer-camp programs; programs for seniors and people with disabilities; educational nature centers and nature preserves; environmental restoration efforts; arts and culture programs and events; the renowned Zoo Miami and the Deering Estate at Cutler; the Crandon Tennis Center, home of the Sony Ericsson Open; golf courses; beaches; marinas; campgrounds; pools; and more. For information about MDPR the public can call 3-1-1 or visit
www.miamidade.gov/parks.


 

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