California State University Chancellor Timothy White visited California State University, Northridge’s award-winning 100 Citizens program on Monday, Sept. 22, during a daylong visit to the San Fernando Valley.
White, who is internationally known for his research on muscle plasticity, injury and aging, said he and his wife, Karen, a professor of kinesiology at California State University, Long Beach visited the city of San Fernando’s Recreation Park because they wanted to observe how CSUN has been able to partner with the community to promote exercise and health.
“It really brought it to life for me to see our students working in the community,” White said. “It’s more than just the physical achievements happening. … They are providing leadership in the community.”
The Whites were hosted on the tour by CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison and joined by San Fernando Mayor Sylvia Ballin and other CSUN administrators and city and county officials. They observed red-shirted kinesiology students engaged in four levels of programming based on the group’s fitness level.
Since 100 Citizens began in the city of San Fernando in 2011, the small group of 20 participants has evolved to more than 100. Due to the program’s success in San Fernando, 100 Citizens has expanded to Los Angeles parks in Sylmar, La Crescenta and Canoga Park, demonstrating the power of how students in CSUN’s Department of Kinesiology can make healthy community transformations.
The students deliver free and sustainable activity agendas to the community at local public parks, while the program creates a career path for aspiring kinesiology professionals who use exercise to help participants between the ages of 18 and 80 lead a healthy, active lifestyle. More than 30 kinesiology majors explore their career options through work with this program each semester.
In 2013, the 100 Citizens program was lauded by First Lady Michelle Obama, when a video highlighting the wellness program garnered the most online votes from the public in a national competition highlighting programs focused on ways to help tackle childhood obesity.
“As the country’s rates of obesity and related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease continue to rise along with high levels of inactivity, it becomes important to provide accessible programs that provide education and instruction, particularly in underserved communities,” said kinesiology professor Steven Loy, the faculty advisor for the program. “The 100 Citizens program provides this while at the same time providing students with a direct application and reinforcing their education.”
Loy said he would like to see his program replicated at CSU campuses and hundreds of kinesiology programs across the country. He said kinesiology students are reaching out to their counterparts at other campuses with the goal of having a 100 Citizens program from each CSU in one local park by fall 2015.
After the morning observation, Chancellor White stopped at CSUN to participate in the California State University Trustee Workgroup open forum on Student Success Fees. This was the first of three forums scheduled to receive input from students, faculty and staff about the impact of campus-based mandatory fees paid by a student to enroll or attend a CSU campus.