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Good Neighbors nearing its Oct. 31 deadline

by Sara Villagran and Katharine Diaz
Good Neighbors Nearing Its Oct. 31 Deadline

Stay active and stay healthy – that important message has been delivered to hundreds of children as part of the Fit Families Program from the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

This free program for underserved children living around the Health Sciences campus focuses on those who are at high risk for diabetes and other conditions associated with physical inactivity.

Fit Families is one of hundreds of programs over the years made possible by the Good Neighbors Campaign, now in its 15th year of making a difference in the communities around the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

The October fund-raiser that asks staff and faculty to support local programs is in the last week of its campaign and striving to reach two goals: raise $1.2 million and increase participation to 50 percent.

“We’re making great strides,” said Good Neighbors Campaign director Carolina Castillo. “We are looking to the Trojan Family to continue this pace of giving.”

As of Oct. 16, the Good Neighbors Campaign had raised $1 million on 3,723 pledges, a 26 percent participation rate. Of those, 311 are contributing 1 percent or more of their salary through payroll deductions.

Since 1994, more than $10 million has been raised to fund more than 350 local programs partnering with USC.

“No other university in the nation contributes so much to its neighborhoods through voluntary contributions by faculty and staff,” said Thomas S. Sayles, vice president of USC government and community relations. “I’m proud that we’re transforming the lives of thousands of children and their families.”

Fit Families alone has served more than 300 individuals since its inception in 2005, according to Cheryl Resnik, director of community outreach in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Fit Families provides evaluation, group exercise activities, individualized exercise programs and nutrition counseling through group discussions, interactive demonstrations and computer-based tutorials.

“They teach you how to take care of yourself and be more aware of what you’re eating and why you should exercise,” said Graciela Serrano, a mother of two and past Fit Families participant. “My kids are more interested and motivated to take care of themselves and are more active.”

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