Colleen Lammel is the Director of Wellness for Chicago Park District

Can you imagine what 8,100 acres of green space looks like? With more than 580 parks that offer thousands of physical activity and cultural programs for people of all ages, The Chicago Park District is the largest municipal park manager in the nation.  Our unprecedented partnership with The Coca‑Cola Company plays a big role in bringing our mission of improving the health and wellness of Chicago families through our parks to life.

We were proud to recently join Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael P. Kelly to celebrate the grand opening of the one-of-a-kind Carver Park Teen Wellness Center on the city’s southeast side. The new Center will feature cross-fit themed, outdoor fitness equipment and teen-oriented programming, including exercise classes like ballet, yoga, hip-hop, nutrition lessons and self-esteem workshops. These efforts are made possible by a grant from The Coca-Cola Company through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

The Center is a much needed addition that will be available to several communities around Carver Park. Without this funding to construct this beautiful new center, the teens of Carver Park didn’t have a place to participate in our health and wellness programming. The construction of the new Teen Center also allows us to extend our Park Family Wellness Initiative (PFWI) to the residents throughout the area. We announced the PFWI with Coca-Cola in 2012. It aims to get 125,000 Chicagoans active by 2016. This grant also helped launch the first-ever Troops for Fitness program, which employs local veterans as wellness instructors to teach boot camp style fitness classes throughout the city.

The programs we’re implementing together with Coca-Cola demonstrate the true value of public-private partnerships. Such partnerships allow us to bring innovative, forward-thinking programs and facilities to help our communities reach their full potential. We look forward to seeing the positive impact the new Carver Park Teen Wellness Center will have on future generations of Chicago’s teens. 

Take a look at highlights from the Center’s grand opening here.