School-affiliated personnel from 11 middle and high schools in Los Angeles County can use newly furnished fitness centers funded by UCLA Health this year.
The UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind, which promotes childhood health, aims to reduce obesity rates in the Los Angeles Unified School District by funding fitness centers. Matthew Flesock, the assistant manager of the organization, said they offer three different grant opportunities to fund comprehensive fitness programs.
The Fitness Center Grant gives LAUSD schools up to $50,000 for new commercial fitness equipment and the $5,000 Maintenance Grant funds the schools’ physical education budget. Flesock said their new Technology Grant provides $2,500 to help schools purchase technology such as Bluetooth speakers and projectors to complement their fitness programs.
Schools can apply for the Fitness Center Grant first, and those that receive the Fitness Center Grant need to wait at least five years before they apply for the Maintenance Grant, Flesock said.
Patrick McCredie, manager of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind, said schools go through a screening process before being selected as recipients.
“We want to go into communities where need is highest, where there is the least access to fitness equipment and higher rates of poverty,” McCredie said. “We want to make sure that administration is on board with this fitness center.”
McCredie added the schools also need to have a space on campus for the fitness center.
Flesock said schools that received the grants purchased cardio machines and strength-training machines with the funds.
Kayla Abeyta, the development manager of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind, said once the school is chosen as a recipient of the grants, it receives a fitness center and a physical education curriculum designed by the organization.
“We give them about 36 lesson plans within the curriculum, and … they can use (them) at their own discretion,” Abeyta said. “Kids will be able to build up strength and endurance throughout the curriculum and when they do the lessons.”
According to UCLA Health’s website, schools that adopted the Sound Body Sound Mind program have experienced a 40 percent increase of students passing the California state mandated fitness test.
McCredie said he thinks the program has changed students’ perception on fitness and PE teachers have learned about classroom management techniques.
“Teachers really need to have strong comprehension on how curriculum is implemented at their school and be able to deliver effective results,” McCredie said.
He said they discussed how to create an inclusive and welcoming fitness environment which encourages students to become fit and continue with the curriculum.
McCredie added Sound Body Sound Mind focuses on fitness education in selected LAUSD schools, but the team aims to expand the program to include more schools. He added they also hope to incorporate nutrition and wellness into their program.
“I think it is very imperative for us to be a fully grown organization that gives the opportunity to not just kids but (the) LA community,” Abeyta said.
McCredie said their ultimate goal is to set an example for other organizations across the country to improve the importance of fitness in schools.
Applications for the Sound Body Sound Mind grants are due Sept. 30.