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Community News: Mid-City

MID-CITY : Students Jumping at Fitness Program

February 07, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

Moving to the sounds of such contemporary artists as Hammer, Technotronic and Whitney Houston, students at Commonwealth Avenue Elementary School are finding that fitness can be fun, thanks to a program developed by volunteers.

More than 50 volunteers from the fitness industry, youth and community organizations, the Los Angeles Unified School District and sportswear manufacturers formed the Los Angeles Fitness Alliance after last year's riots, said Dan Joyce, one of the volunteers.

"You have to start somewhere and we thought that through a fitness program we could teach kids to have pride in themselves and their studies," Joyce said. "With all the pressures kids face today, if you don't get to them in elementary school you've lost them."

The program, which supplements regular physical education classes, began with fitness and health tests for the 270 participating students, followed by two classes each week led by aerobic and hip-hop dance instructors. The students are also given weekly written and activity assignments to encourage exercise at home, regular school attendance, creativity and self-esteem.

"This program has made a big difference for our students," said Rosalyn Carlton, the school's principal. "At first they wouldn't even do a sit-up or move their arms. But they relate to the instructors and the music and now they're all motivated."

Daniel Hernandez, a fourth-grader, said he feels healthier since he joined the program. "It's great exercise and it makes school more fun," he said. "I like jumping jacks the best. I do them at home too."

The school board has approved the pilot program and Fitness Alliance volunteers hope to expand it to include more schools, Joyce said.

Information: (310) 545-1157.

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