This is Jaime Wilt. For my community service, I am helping out with a fitness class at the Luxton Park Recreation Center in the Glendale Townhomes neighborhood. The majority of the residents in this neighborhood are immigrants or minorities.
The women's fitness class was started by CAPI which is an organization that provides a wide variety of services to assist immigrants. CAPI has partnered with the Healthy Housing, Healthy Community program whose goal is to reduce chronic disease caused by smoking and obesity. Through this program, CAPI is trying to eliminate smoking within the townhomes and provide physical activity opportunities for the residents.
The women who is leading the fitness class, Berdine, is a leader within the community. She works at the food shelf in the neighborhood and leads a walking bus to walk the children home from school during the week. Berdine did not have any prior experience with teaching fitness classes, but she did shadow a fitness instructor for a day. The workers at CAPI had hoped to sign her up for a workshop on teaching fitness classes but it was too expensive for the organization. Ayah and I work with Berdine to plan and teach the fitness class each Friday.
There have been four classes so far and three to five women have attended each class. All of the women are African American or Somalian and their ages range from about 40 to 70. A couple of the women do not speak English very well so Saharla, a CAPI employee, translates the class for them. It is clear that the women have not had much exposure to exercise so we have to make sure the exercises are clear and simple and that we start out slowly. We are encouraging the women to continue the exercises outside of class and may be getting a scale to help them track their progress. It has been great to see the women's enthusiasm and desire to exercise.