American Council on Exercise and Students Celebrate "Operation FitKids Day" in New York City during Opening Ceremonies for Newest Kids’ Fitness Site

Posted: Jul 25, 2001 in

SAN DIEGO--New York City is hot in the middle of June, and if you are a typical high school student, all you want to do is get through finals and start your summertime fun. On June 18, 2001, a group of high school students delayed their vacation revelry a few hours to enjoy a different kind of fun—the opening celebration for the newest Operation FitKids site at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School in Manhattan.

Operation FitKids, the youth outreach program for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), worked with school administrators, Townsports International/New York Sports Clubs and the New York City Fire Department to turn the school’s dance studio into a fully outfitted fitness center, complete with state-of-the-art cardio and strength equipment. The dance studio was a focal point in the 1980 blockbuster Fame, which was filmed at the former school of performing arts.

The morning’s festivities were topped off when New York Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba declared June 18 as Operation FitKids Day in the city of New York. He presented the proclamation, signed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, to Operation FitKids founder Ken Germano in front of an excited crowd of students and their families, fire fighters, ACE staff, and school personnel.

“It was definitely exciting to have the mayor of New York create Operation FitKids Day,” said Germano, who is also the executive director of ACE. “ The only thing more exciting is the students’ eagerness to start using the facility and working with the fire fighters in their community to get stronger and healthier. This is exactly why I created Operation FitKids back in 1990.”

Another highlight of the ceremony came when New York City fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen stood up to address the students. He spoke of the importance of hard work and commitment to a purpose. His words had even stronger impact on the crowd, because just the day before three New York City fire fighters were killed during a building fire in Queens. Although the commissioner had been up all night tending to the tragedy, he still made time for the students.

One of Operation FitKids’ goals is to create community partnerships through which schools can receive added support in their area. One of these relationships is with the fire department, and another is with Townsports International/New York Sports Club, which donated all of the equipment for the facility. New York-based specialty fitness retailer Gym Source has also provided support.

The opening, scheduled to coincide with Club Industry East 2001, marked the first time that Operation FitKids partnered with fire fighters to incorporate a mentoring program into a school site. In conjunction with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Operation FitKids is planning to develop mentoring programs and educational programs for new sites across the country.

Operation FitKids, the youth outreach program of the American Council on Exercise, is dedicated to enriching the lives of America’s youth with enhanced education for healthy lifestyles and increased opportunities for physical activity. Operation FitKids can provide schools with one or more of the following components: commercial fitness equipment, educational materials, staff training, mentoring and community partnering. For more information on Operation FitKids, please contact Jeanne Dierickx at 800/825-3636, x757, or at Digital images from the event are available for use in conjunction with this news release. To access the images, please contact Opal Teague at 800-825-3636, x730 or

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