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Tamarac Involves Seniors in Healthy Living Centers
Stay Fit, Stay Healthy

By Michelle Zimmer
March 28, 2005

Tamarac (FL) Parks & Recreation department's mission is to provide safe, fun, and lifelong leisure activities to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Tamarac. This mission is accomplished by offering diverse programs and facilities that meet the residents- cultural, social, physical, wellness, and recreational needs.

Hearts N- Parks Initiative

Tamarac Parks & Recreation department was one of 51 Magnet Centers chosen from across the United States to participate in the Hearts N- Parks initiative sponsored through the National Recreation and Parks Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Consumer-oriented materials are available to communicate heart-healthy messages related to weight management, physical activity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease. The Parks & Recreation department offers a large and diverse Senior Program for ages 55-, Monday through Friday, at the Tamarac Community Center where Hearts N- Parks programming is provided to the community. Seniors have reported feeling healthier and experiencing less pain in their daily lives by the end of the program.

Especially for Seniors: Within the senior program are specialized activities to promote health and wellness among seniors that include a walk club, arthritis self-help classes, and also bi-monthly health and fitness lectures. The department recognizes that as people age their health and fitness needs change, and we strive to provide for these needs.

Promoting Healthy Hearts: The department encourages and promotes healthy lifestyles for Tamarac's residents through education and the provision of innovative and quality opportunities, creating positive experiences for a diverse population. Also, posted around all facilities is heart-healthy information for the community to enjoy.

Fall Into Fitness

Targeting Youth Obesity: The Parks & Recreation Department also offers a variety of youth and teen programming at its Tamarac Park site. These programs run year round, after school, on weekends, and during summer camp. Through the Hearts N- Parks initiative, the department offered several programs including: Summer Shape Up for the summer camp ages six through eleven years, and "Are you staying fit?" for the teen program. These innovative programs aim to reduce the growing trend of obesity and the risk of coronary heart disease in the United States by encouraging participants to aim for a healthy weight, follow a heart-healthy eating plan, and engage in regular physical activity.

Teaming Up with the Elementary School: The staff also partnered with the elementary school physical education classes and conducted diet and exercise classes. These efforts were assessed by incorporating CATCH games (modified versions of regular sports), lectures, and pre- and post surveys into the classes. Children reported learning new physical activities and improving their performance in others.

Involving Children in Sports: Tamarac Park consists of: a recreation center; a multi-purpose center with meeting rooms; a gymnasium; a teen center, one covered playground; two racquetball courts; and four baseball fields. Classes are offered in: children's gymnastics; ballet; hip-hop dance; cheerleading; tumbling; and martial arts for all ages. The Start Smart Program is an instructional sports development program that prepares children ages three to five years for the world of organized sports. Parents work together with their children in a supportive environment to learn the basic skills.

Healthy Staff = Happy Staff

The city offers heart healthy information to all employees through a bi-monthly newsletter. The newsletter contains everything from heart-healthy recipes to heart-healthy exercises. The city also offers free fitness center memberships to all employees and sponsors a yearly health fair. By continuing to offer many diverse activities, classes, programs, and amenities, the city of Tamarac hopes to increase significantly awareness and promote a healthy and physically fit lifestyle for all age groups.

For more information, contact Michelle Zimmer, Recreation Superintendent, 8601 W. Commercial Blvd., Tamarac, FL 33321; phone: 954/724-1287; e-mail: