By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The City of Miami Beach partnered with New Balance to launch its Fitness Challenge Wednesday, June 12th at Flamingo Park. Kids partook in activities that tested their flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness.
The New Balance Fitness Challenge was founded in 2013 by Miami Marlins outfielder Curtis Granderson. It’s a free one day, community event for children ages 5 to 16 of all abilities. An estimated 1,250 children from the Miami Beach Boys and Girls Club and local summer camps participated.
Granderson captained the games and activities. Each event incorporated endurance, strength and flexibility. Participants played dodgeball, kickball, wiffleball, ran relay races and other skill games.
“Kids just aren’t getting outside enough anymore. When I was in school, recess and extracurricular sports were just as important as learning in the classroom. Now, cell phones and video games are replacing playing tag and catch,” said Granderson.
“I started this Fitness Challenge in 2013, in partnership with New Balance, to motivate kids to go outside and get moving again.”
Additionally, participants received a free t-shirt and challenge journal. In the challenge journal, kids are encouraged to keep track of their own fitness challenges and goals. Journal engagement is also supposed to teach the importance of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition.
“In the last five years, we’ve built a program that’s clearly working. With all of New Balance’s help, we’ve expanded the program nationally to reach thousands of kids across the country,” Granderson said about the Fitness Challenge.
“We’re connecting them to tools and resources for building healthy, active lifestyles. We can see their bodies and minds growing. We’re opening up opportunities for them that will last a lifetime.”
In his 16th season, Granderson is a three-time Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star. In 2007, he launched his foundation, Grand Kids. Grand Kids is a nonprofit organization that supports youth development through fitness, nutrition and education.
Granderson won the MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award for the player who best exemplifies community involvement and sportsmanship. That same year, he also won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, chosen by the MLB Players Association for a player whose community work and on-field achievements inspire others. Granderson won the Marvin Miller Award for a second time last year.
New Balance sponsors multiple community initiatives. In addition to the Fitness Challenge, New Balance is co-presenting the Pan Mass Challenge. The Pan Mass Challenge the country’s most successful athletic fundraising event, donating 100 percent of all profits raised to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“Our goal is to inspire millions of children around the world to discover and nurture their movement spark,” said Anne Davis, New Balance Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President of Administration.
“Children thrive when they are physically active. Whether it’s a love for jumping, running, soccer or riding a bike, we believe that children who find their spark – how they love to move – stay active for a lifetime.”
Within the city of Miami Beach, there are over forty recreational classes, parks and facilities for residents to utilize. The Miami Beach Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces department hosts several summer sports camps. This summer, activities include baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, flag football, tennis, rowing and golf.