Miami-Dade Parks program helps kids lose weight

'Fit to Play' offered at several parks for kids ages 6 - 14

MIAMI - A special program offered through Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation is teaching children good nutrition and helping them get physically fit.

"We get them active with nutrition and get them active with play and these kids are getting the fun back in fitness," said Shawn Ramirez, the Wellness Coordinator at Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation.

It's all part of the "Fit to Play" camp. The camp and afterschool programs are focused on making fitness and proper nutrition fun.

"You gotta sneak it in because all they wanna do is play electronics, sit in front of their little hand devices and the computer, and that's really where the problem lies," said Ramirez.

The campers go through biometric testing at the start of the program so that changes in their health can be accurately measured.

"Active isn't enough. We need to take these kids to the next level, where they are not only active and having fun, and at the same time, they're getting results and we're able to prove that," said Ramirez.

One of the challenges is called the morning mile, which is sponsored by AVMed Health Plans. For every five miles completed, the campers get a shoe to add to a special necklace.

"When I first got here, I didn't know it was fit to play. I thought it was just camp, we just play games and stuff," said Chelsea Sanchez.

Sanchez has lost 35 pounds at the camp. Her brother Moises has lost nearly 40 pounds.

"I started to run all the time. Walk, jog all the time, and I started to lose weight," said Moises.

"You can tell when you're body's changing. Your stomach gets smaller, you run faster, you eat healthier," said Chelsea.

The Fit to Play afterschool program is available to children ages 6 through 14 at several area parks.

Click here for more information on the Fit to Play camp, including which parks offer the program.

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