Two dozen veterans will be hired to kick-off Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness throughout Miami-Dade with a grant to the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade. Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez announced the more than $190,000 grant awarded by The Coca-Cola Foundation and managed by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces will oversee the roll out of Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness, a military-style fitness program led by U.S. military veterans. “Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness supports our county’s 'Live a Park Life at Miami-Dade Parks' initiative which is designed to help people get fit in unconventional ways,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Together with Coca-Cola, NRPA and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, we’re going to be able to create new and fun ways for thousands of our residents to get fit and rediscover the joy of being active.” In addition, the grant will support nutrition and physical activity programs offered at the county’s 13 community centers. By the end of 2016, more than 5,000 Miami-Dade residents will have increased access to health and wellness programs. “Obesity is a complex issue that cannot be solved overnight. We must work together with leaders like Mayor Gimenez and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade to find workable solutions for a healthier community,” said Sonya Soutus, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola North America Group. “Through Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness, we are showing that getting fit can be fun for people of all ages.” Through a $3 million grant to NRPA, Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness will roll out in 12 communities over the next three years. Miami-Dade County will join Chicago and San Antonio as the third major U.S. metropolitan area to implement Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness. Additional cities that will activate Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness in 2013 include Atlanta, Newark and Sacramento. “Active living and nutrition are keys to good health,” said Miami-Dade County District Commissioner Jean Monestime. “Hiring our nation’s heroes to lead this health and wellness initiative is a win-win.”
Miami-Dade County’s Military Affairs Board, under the leadership of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, will work to spread the recruitment message. The Board serves as an advocate for active duty, reserve, retired, disabled and deceased military personnel in Miami-Dade County.Among the first veterans hired is Laura Ortiz, an amputee and veteran who served in the Army National Guard for eight years. Ortiz, who received both Gold and Silver medals in U.S. Paralympic track events, will serve as a fitness instructor. Ian Cummings, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who operates boot-camp style classes at Deerwood-Bonita Lakes Park, will also be among the first hired. “More and more, well-respected companies are keenly aware of the economic, social and health benefits of investing in parks and parks programming,” said Dick Anderson, President of the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade. “Thanks to Coca-Cola and NRPA, this opportunity will directly impact the health and wellness of Miami-Dade residents and enable our parks and recreation to continue providing leadership in health and wellness.” About The Coca-Cola Foundation Since its inception, The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded more than $500 million to support global sustainable community initiatives, including water stewardship, community recycling, active, healthy living, and education. For more information about The Coca-Cola Foundation, please go to www.thecoca-colacompany.com/citizenship/foundation_coke.html. About the National Recreation and Park Association The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 30,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources. For more information, visit www.NRPA.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org. About The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that supports the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department’s effort to further develop Miami-Dade County’s world-class parks system for residents and visitors. Its mission is to create a healthier, more livable and sustainable Miami community by ensuring the implementation of the Parks Open Space Master Plan and the development of year-round park and recreation programs for local children, adults and people with disabilities.
About the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department:Nationally accredited, a three-time winner of the NRPA National Gold Medal Award, winner of the 2013 Florida Governor’s Sustained Excellence Award and the 2009 Florida Governor’s Sterling Award for excellence in management and operations, Miami-Dade County Parks is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 260 parks and 12,825 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, Deering Estate at Cutler and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden; the Crandon Tennis Center, home of the Sony Open; golf courses; beaches; marinas; campgrounds; pools; and more. For information about Miami-Dade County Parks call 3-1-1, or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks/. To request material in accessible format, information on access for persons with disabilities, or sign language interpreter services (7 days in advance), call 305-755-7848.