“Kinesiology students will continue to be key figures in implementing and replicating the program to other CSUs because they are the ones who run the program and gain experience,” said kinesiology professor Steven Loy.
Por ZULAY SALDAÑA LÓPEZ
EL NUEVO SOL
For Marisol Díaz, helping people to be physically active has been more than a passion, it has become a personal long-term goal.
When Díaz, 26, started her education at California State University Northridge in 2006, she was pursuing a career in Sociology but soon her path took a different direction.
“I was interested in kinesiology since I was in high school, [but] I just didn’t know how much I was drawn to it,” Díaz said.
Then, in 2012, Díaz came across the 100 Citizens Outdoor Fitness Program in the San Fernando Recreation Park.
“I saw a flyer that asked “Do you like working with a senior group?,” she said. ”That drew my attention and I decided to go to the San Fernando Park and learn more about the program.”
There, she discovered her true calling. In her sophomore year, Díaz switched her major to Kinesiology.
“I wanted to make a difference. I like motivating people to be physically active so they can improve their health,” said Díaz.
After volunteering with 100 Citizens as a student instructor in the summer of 2012, Díaz became the instructor for the senior class, and is currently the program director.
Now, as a graduate student in the Department of Kinesiology, she wants to replicate the success of San Fernando in Canoga Park and expand 100 Citizens to other CSU campuses statewide.
Díaz’s work is part of a larger expansion planned by the founder of the program, CSUN Kinesiology professor Steven Loy. The program is currently being offered in Sylmar, La Crescenta and Canoga Park, where members of the community are taking advantage of the free fitness program.
“Everything [in the program] is well organized, and it would be good to replicate this program in other cities because being healthy is very important to people,” said Jessica Vásquez, 28, participant of the 100 Citizens in Lanark Park, located in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley.
Vásquez has participated in the program for two months and says she has missed only three sessions.
Alma Bernbal, 38, another participant, highlights the family friendly environment of the program.
“As a mother, I can bring my children with me to the exercise class. It would be a great opportunity for other communities to have this type of program,” Bernbal said.
As program director of 100 Citizens, Díaz is in charge of the administrative work, including the supervision of student interns and making sure they are completing their hours within the semester.
Díaz helped expand the 100 Citizens program in Lanark Park as part of her work towards a graduate degree. “We had to get in contact with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and with the West Valley Park supervisor,” Díaz said. “He [the park supervisor] was the one that made the effort to collaborate with us.”
Diaz also oversees the marketing component to promote the program.
Other universities in the California State University system have expressed interest in this program. Díaz says she has had some positive responses and questions from some Cal State universities, such as Cal State Pomona and Cal State San Marcos.
“Some schools have informed us that they have already located a park and want to know what the next step is,” said Díaz.
Professor Loy, 59, describes some of the benefits of the entire Cal State University system in implementing 100 Citizens throughout the state.
“The CSU as a whole can benefit,” said Loy. “If there is the publicity that there is a program that is provided for the community at no cost, that is a good reflection on the university.”
“Kinesiology students will continue to be key figures in implementing and replicating the program to other CSUs because they are the ones who run the program and gain experience,” said Loy.
And Díaz agrees. “Kinesiology students benefit from this program because they are applying their education, they are improving their communication skills and understanding what is required to make a program successful,“ said Díaz.
Also, she believes the community gains something positive.
“Its a win-win, students gain job experience and community members learn how to exercise and about nutrition,” she said. “Community members then take this information to their home and it becomes part of their culture to be physically active.”