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Physical fitness outreach program at IUPUI to receive Difference Maker Award



INDIANAPOLIS — A physical fitness outreach program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is one of two finalists that will receive the inaugural Difference Maker Award from Top 10 by 2025.

The $2,500 award will be presented to the Physically Active Residential Communities and Schools program, known as PARCS, at the Top 10’s inaugural Revolution Ball, a fundraising event, on Jan. 25. Top 10 by 2025 is a coalition of more than 100 stakeholders from multiple sectors convened by the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis. The goal is to be a catalyst for individual, policy, system and environmental change to make Central Indiana one of the U.S.’s 10 healthiest communities by 2025.

“We hope this funding will allow both organizations to continue in their quest to make Central Indiana a healthier community,” said Eric Ellsworth, presiden and CEO, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis.

The program, managed by the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI, was selected from a number of applications from organizations implementing “incredible programs and projects to address the health needs of the community,” the Difference Maker Award selection committee said.

“We are honored to be one of the first recipients of the award,” said Allison Plopper, a lecturer in the school’s Department of Kinesiology and director of the health-and-wellness program. “To be recognized in Indianapolis as a place people can go to better their health is incredible.”

The PARCS program promotes physical fitness and wellness in Indianapolis communities, providing safe exercise facilities in convenient locations at low or no cost to community members. It fills a health and fitness participation gap that local fitness centers and schools can’t provide because of limits in funding and time.

To minimize costs, the program uses two Indianapolis Public Schools high school locations easily accessed by most participants, George Washington Community High School and the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center on Arsenal Technical High School’s campus. It also employs IUPUI exercise science and fitness studies students as fitness instructors.

PARCS is designed to promote lifetime physical fitness and wellness to families while reducing the incidence of diabetes, obesity and other coronary artery disease risk factors. During the first half of 2013, the program served about 1,500 students and adults. Over the past 11 years, nearly 30,000 community members have exercised with the program.

The American Fitness Index measures the health of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas annually. In 2012, metropolitan Indianapolis was ranked 43rd out of 50 communities.