Friday, September 23, 2005

Program gets people
active in urban Honolulu

Three years ago, the city Department of Parks and Recreation resolved to better serve downtown residents.

Officials wanted to have big open spaces and recreation programs available in the "urban core" without building a new park or dedicating too much money to the project.

For a while, it seemed like an impossible order.

But the solution, the city says, came last year with help from a $248,000 state Department of Health grant, which paid for a pilot project to hold dance, aerobics and other late-afternoon and evening exercise classes at Farrington High School in Kalihi.

The programs started Aug. 30, with a grand opening earlier this month.

They will go until December, and officials are hoping to get enough interest to justify an expansion of the project to other high schools.

The program could even spread islandwide.

"We want to have a positive impact on the community; in other words, getting people to come and participate," said project manager Reid Tamashiro. "The reason why we want to expand it is so we can improve physical fitness."

Studies show, he said, that more people commit to physical activity regimes if they have easy access to a convenient, nearby exercise area.

Most parks, though, are outside densely populated areas, where land is more available. Meanwhile, schools are out and often empty by late afternoon.

Tamashiro said there are 139 people registered in the classes being held at Farrington, which include hip-hop dance, salsa and power-walking.

The classes are offered Monday through Friday. Two are offered during school hours -- one between 8 and 9 a.m., and a second between 12:37 and 1:17 p.m.

The project, called "In Motion," is a partnership between the city Department of Parks and Recreation and the state Department of Education.

For more information and a list of classes, contact the program at 554-4858.

Department of Parks and Recreation

E-mail to City Desk


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