Providing Opportunity to Improve Physical Health

A grant of $50,000 is given to Kennedy to build a new fitness center

By Alexis Miranda (Special Features Editor) -3/16/17

P.E. students and Kennedy’s school mascot enjoying the new fitness center
P.E. students and Kennedy’s school mascot enjoying the new fitness center

With the help of the Joseph Drown Foundation and UCLA, Kennedy has unveiled a new fitness center that is open to students, staff, and eventually, the community.

The $50,000 grant that was given to Kennedy did not happen overnight. Due to a lack of any cardiovascular or aerobic equipment on campus and limited physical education resources,  Jacinto Garcia, teacher and grant coordinator; Kevin Kanemura, athletic director and physical education department chair; other staff; and student Jessalyn Garcia came together to put together the necessary paperwork and requirements that got Kennedy through to stages that eventually led to winning the grant.

“I was first approached by Coach Garcia last semester around September,” voiced Jessalyn Garcia, a senior a part of the Architecture Magnet. “He asked me if I wanted to help him with getting a grant by drawing a simple floor plan of what our fitness center would look like if we were to receive the grant.”

In addition to student involvement, to qualify for the grant the school needs to have about  80 percent of the student body be Hispanic/Latino and nearly 70 percent of the student body must qualify for free or reduced lunch.

“From the very beginning…the entire school population – students, administrators, teachers – were all there. You could tell from the very beginning that this whole community wanted this fitness center, and we don’t always get that from our schools,” explained Matthew Flesock, program manager of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind. He further explains that this kind of effort is what stood out for Kennedy when it came down to choosing what school got the grant.

The UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind is a physical education program that brings commercial-grade fitness equipment to underserved schools, along with a physical education curriculum focused on boosting confidence and making participation more enjoyable.

“It’s another way to exercise,” explains senior Joshua Alfaro, long distance runner on track. “It would benefit us because if anyone’s injured someone can exercise on the bikes.” Not only this, but the fitness center would further strengthen the physical educations programs.

Now with the new fitness center in place and ready to be used with teachers trained with the new curriculum, Kennedy can not only foresee overall fitness levels to improve, but they can expect more enjoyment in P.E., as the physical education class will be using the center as well.