By Makalah Emmanuel; Groundwork Denver Communications & Volunteer Outreach Coordinator
It was a hot sunny day, temperatures rising above the 90’s, and though conditions like these would normally prevent people from going outside, that was not the case for Leonor Perez. At Mestizo-Curtis Park, located in the Five Points neighborhood as Denver’s oldest park, Leonor found herself taking lead in bettering her health with the help of Groundwork Denver’s ParkRx Run and Walk Boot Camp. When asked why she was in the park participating in the program’s activity, Perez wiped the sweat from her face then simply responded.
“I am here because of health. I was recently diagnosed with prediabetes. Diabetes is prevalent in my family. I definitely do not want to get a diagnosis that is diabetes and deal with that for the rest of my life. I realized I needed to make some changes for me and my family and my kids.”
Following her response, Leonor returned to participating in the various exercise classes provided by ViVe, a nonprofit organization with the mission of building wellness for families in communities of need through education, empowerment and physical activity. ViVe is a proud partner of Groundwork Denver’s ParkRx program which aims to increase residents’ awareness of park amenities, encourage healthy physical activity, improve the health and well-being of residents, and increase safety and positive use of Mestizo-Curtis Park.
To Leonor, the ParkRx Run and Walk Boot Camp is more than just a fun activity in the park.
“It’s a door. It’s an open door that we can all use. Especially within our community, we find a lot of closed doors. ParkRx is amazing and a great opportunity,” she said.
Leonor also talked about what the ParkRx program’s activities have meant to her as a mother.
“I think this program meets you where you are. I have to deal with a lot of different aspects of my life as a mom, dealing with work and a lot of responsibilities. It’s hard to get to a place where you find the time for yourself,” Leonor said. “But this program meets you where you are. You can do as much as you want or just come and learn more about the workouts. It’s a very, very manageable program,” she continued.
Last year, the ParkRx program hired an external consulting company to evaluate the success of the program. Many of the conclusions from the evaluation found, like Leonor, several participants who are a part of the ParkRx program noted it affected their health in a very positive way, with others stating they have lost weight and have lowered their blood pressure. In addition, many noted an improvement in their mental and emotional well-being.
ParkRx is only one of the many programs Groundwork Denver offers to better the health of the community and those living within them. To learn more on how Groundwork Denver is promoting health and well-being, visit GroundworkColorado.org.