Group tries to get kids moving in parks with new program

Youngsters are working up a sweat in Brooklyn.

Get Up & Go, a new fitness program for children from the City Parks Foundation, kicked off in Brooklyn parks Monday, July 13 to push kids who don’t have summer plans to exercise in fun and competitive ways.

Licensed physical education teachers lead the free programs throughout the city so children ages six to 10 develop central exercise skills, compete in contests and advance their fitness levels.

“We take some of the fun stuff in a physical education class and bring it to a park,” Mike Silverman, the organization’s director of sports, said. “I’m talking about obstacle courses, relay courses—all the fun stuff you do in gym class.”

In Brooklyn, the program is held every Thursday in Gravesend (Calvert Vaux Park), and Bensonhurst (Seth Low Playground) and every Monday in Williamsburg (Vincent Abate Playground in McCarren Park; Sternberg Park).

Each week, Get Up & Go teachers educate kids on different fitness themes and exercises. Children ran and jumped the first two weeks, but in future weeks instructors will lead participants in strength, balance and endurance activities.

To Silverman, a significant part of Get Up & Go’s mission, aside from preventing kids from being bored in the summer, is to make exercise not seem like a drag that big kids force themselves to do.

“Sometimes kids hear ‘exercise’ and equate it with work, which is not fun,” he said. “Every week they review what they did before, add another element, [and] make it a little more fun, a little more challenging.”

City Parks Foundation, a non-profit, foots the program’s bills from its budget, which fundraisers and grants partly subsidize. Get Up & Go doesn’t have any corporate sponsors at this time, according to Silverman.

Nora Lanning, City Parks Foundation’s marketing and communications director, said the organization considered a wide range of factors when it chose the 14 parks for the program.

“We select parks that otherwise don’t have a lot of organized athletics opportunities,” she said. “We also look for what equipment is there [and] if there is interest in the communities.”

Get Up & Go also has four sites in the Bronx, three in Manhattan, one on Staten Island, and two in Queens, and will run until August 20.

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