Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Empowering Veterans to Improve Community Health: How the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness Program Is Making a Difference

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Empowering Veterans to Improve Community Health: How the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness Program Is Making a Difference

Article excerpt

The Coca-Cola Foundation has a long history of supporting initiatives that strengthen community togetherness, and perhaps this has never been more clearly shown than through Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness. Launched in Chicago in November 2012, followed by San Antonio in June 2013, Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness supports employing veterans as fitness instructors within community recreation facilities.

Expanding nationwide during fall 2013 through a partnership with NRPA, Coca-Cola Troops for Fit ness is now also in Miami-Dade County and the cities of Newark, Atlanta and Sacramento. Development plans include expansion across four additional communities in each of the next two years, ultimately implementing the program through NRPA across 12 major metropolitan areas by 2016. NRPA's support of Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness embraces local park and recreation agencies as the foundation for improving community health.

This unique collaboration aligns community park and recreation agencies with the leadership skills and fitness expertise of U.S. veterans to help combat the nation's health woes stemming from sedentary lifestyles. Veterans are being recruited by these agencies to instruct high-energy programs ranging from Zumba to water aerobics to boot-camp fitness at zero to low cost for participants. The Coca-Cola Foundation's support is enabling participating veterans to develop their fitness programs while providing community members with affordable opportunities to improve their health. Additionally, these 12 communities are contributing to the development of a guide that will serve as a model for other communities to replicate similar initiatives in the future.

To learn more about the program, visit www.nrpa.org and search "troops."

Interview with Laura Ortiz, Veteran Recruited by Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces

How did you become involved with Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces?

I became involved with Miami-Dade through a recreational therapist by the name of Jody Cox; she works in the disability services department at Goulds Community Center. Jody thought I would be an ideal candidate for the Troops for Fitness initiative, considering my line of work at the local YMCA over the past two years as a fitness instructor to the active older adults, certified personal trainer and spinning instructor. So I acted upon her advice, and the rest is history, as the saying goes.

What is your connection to the multiple dimensions of Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness? …

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