San Antonio has had the dubious distinction of making the “fattest cities” list for years now.
For the city’s part, leaders believe changing that trend starts with a younger population.
On Wednesday, the city hosted a large group of kids at Roosevelt Park to celebrate a new announcement; a partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation. Coca-Cola announced they would be funding fitness programs with a $1.5 million donation over three years.
During the announcement, kids could be found playing soccer, learning Zumba, and hula hooping. Activities like these are something the city hopes to now provide on a permanent basis using the donated money.
"At the end of the day, what we want is we want more young people to grow up and avoid diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart attack,” said Mayor Julian Castro.
The city found an unlikely ally in the well-known soft drink company, who according to a spokesperson is “encouraging and helping people of all ages to exercise and learn to live a balanced lifestyle.”
"They came to us several months ago and said we're interested in investing in you, if you can show us that it’s worth the investment,” said Mary Ullman Japhet, vice president of San Antonio Sports and member of the Mayor’s Fitness Council.
The City of San Antonio said the money will have an immediate and direct impact through programs like “Ride-to-Own”, which will distribute 450 bicycles to 15 community centers, and the San Antonio Sports Afterschool program.
The program will expand homework assistance as well as mentoring, fitness, and nutritional education.
The grant will also support the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness program, which hires U.S. veterans to teach military-style fitness classes.
"We're not trying to force people to do anything, but we do hope they have the information and resources they need to choose the healthiest option,” said Castro.