Special Needs Network is kicking off the new year with a free health and wellness program for residents of L.A. County thanks to a $25,000 contribution from Anthem Blue Cross for the second year in a row. On Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning January 31, at 5:30 PM at Rancho La Cienega Park, 5001 Rodeo Road in Los Angeles, enrollees will receive free training and exercise tips from certified and celebrity fitness instructors and cooking and nutrition experts will teach participants how to prepare healthy meals. This is a part of a one-year program designed to help improve the overall health of LA residents.
Now in its fourth year, the South L.A. Gets Fit program (SLAGF), a 10-week nutrition, fitness and empowerment program, helps to improve the physical health, confidence and overall well being of South Los Angeles residents.
The program offers group exercise including Zumba, Kick Boxing and Strength Training. Coaches provide each participant with a personalized program to assist them in meeting their health and fitness goals.
“We know that health is our wealth and with anticipated changes to the Affordable Care Act, it’s more important than ever that L.A. residents take control of their health. Countless scientific studies show that learning as much as you can about healthy lifestyles and developing healthy habits can mitigate against debilitating diseases and disorders and improve the overall quality of life,” says Special Needs President Areva Martin, who is an avid runner and program participant.
The program is designed to meet the unique needs of participants and includes personalized coaching for both novices as well as veterans. In addition to nutrition and training programs, participants receive free health-screenings courtesy of T.H.E. Health & Wellness Center and assistance with weight loss goals. “I lost 15 pounds on the program and as a result, I feel more secure about myself. I look forward to trying my best to continue to lose more weight,” says participant and parent advocate Evelyn Del Carmen Zavala.
Last year, more than 100 members participated in SLAGF by running, walking, jumping and hiking their way to better health. The motivated group logged more than 5,000 miles preparing them for the program’s grand finale, which is participation in the Hollywood Marathon. This year’s participants will have an opportunity to earn a medal and join thousands of walkers and runners at the Hollywood race on Saturday, April 8th. Program participants also have a chance to enter weekly raffles and win an array of prizes from exercise gear to gift certificates to local restaurants. “I got interested in SNN South L.A. Gets Fit from a friend who asked me to walk with her twice a week for 10-weeks so that we could walk/run in the Hollywood Race. I thought, there was no way I could participate in the Hollywood Race, but I welcomed the challenge. This experience has changed my life in a positive way. I work out more, I can now run a 10K race, and I enjoy the positive social environment”, says 2015 participant Rosalind Washington.
“As the leading cause of death in California, heart disease affects all Angelenos, but the risk is higher for low-income communities. However, health education and physical activity can provide better outcomes,” said Dr. Demetria Malloy, Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal Health Plan Medical Director. “This is why Anthem Blue Cross is committed to help educate and activate underserved communities, including caregivers of people with disabilities.”
Community partners include T.H.E. Clinic, Everytable, CBS2/KCAL9, Super Hero Events and L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Mark Ridley-Thomas, who will be present to acknowledge the participants that complete the 10-week program at a Board of Supervisors meeting in April following the Hollywood Race.
SLAGF is free and open to the public. The program runs from Tuesday, January 31st through Saturday, April 8th. For sponsorship and registration visit www.specialneedsnetwork.org