SAN DIEGO - By the time National Fitness Month rolls around in May, San Diego’s underserved children will have an extra incentive to shape up.
In conjunction with the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise (ACE), Operation FitKids will pledge more than $300,000 in funds and equipment to improve fitness facilities for children in twelve local schools and community centers.
"Childhood obesity is on the verge of becoming an epidemic," says Ken Germano, Operation FitKids founder and executive director of ACE. "The 1988-94 survey from the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in four children is overweight or at risk for becoming overweight."
It's statistics like this, he said, that fuel Operation FitKids’ mission to bring fitness facilities to underserved children and educate America's youth on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
More than 150,000 local children have benefited from FitKids facilities since 1993 when the first facility was opened at San Diego High School.
"Operation FitKids has been extremely successful here in San Diego," says Germano. "Our facility at San Diego High School, for example, averages about 20,000 visits per year—that’s more than double the first year’s total."
The $300,000 in funds and equipment is earmarked for improvements in local high schools, including: Herbert Hoover, San Diego, Crawford, Lincoln, Kearney, Montgomery, Mar Vista and Madison; and Boys & Girls Clubs in Lakeside, El Cajon and Oceanside, plus Casa Familiar in San Ysidro.
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) has also contributed generously to San Diego’s FitKids project. SGMA has been a faithful supporter of FitKids for several years.
Under the umbrella of ACE, Operation FitKids is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that arranges for the donation of used health club equipment and creates fully functional fitness facilities for children in underserved neighborhoods. FitKids facilities are established in high schools, community centers, and housing developments and are available to children at a minimal cost.
Since its inception in 1990, Operation FitKids has arranged for the donation of more than $6 million in equipment (between 6,000-8,000 exercise machines) to 100 facilities in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Portland, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Chicago and Miami.
ACE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness product sand instruction. As the nation's "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world's largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.