UTPA has the challenging task of altering the mind-set of residents of the Rio South Texas region. The old wisdom that “a fat baby is a healthy baby” no longer applies to today’s society; indeed, even an overweight child increases the chance that he or she will develop Type II Diabetes. Instead, physical activity should be encouraged as early as possible, and UTPA can promote this healthy mind-set with walking paths, bike lanes and racks, and easy access to sports facilities such as the WRSC.
The Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex (WRSC) continually strives to provide an exceptional environment of wellness and recreation in order to facilitate increased student involvement in the university community. This is accomplished through: displaying integrity to all customers, colleagues, and associates; excellent customer service; collaborative relationships with other departments and organizations in the university community; providing opportunities for student development and involvement; providing excellence in facilities, services, and programs; and continually exploring ways to exceed the expectations of the customers.
The WRSC has a total of 275,000 entries into the building, not including those individuals granted access for rentals, camps, special events, or tours. On average, the daily total is 753 entries over the entire 365-day calendar year. Aside from those daily visitors, the WRSC houses summer camps for 6-11 year old children. Enrollment for summer camps is 480; these camps provide daily activity classes in a variety of sports as well as promote healthy eating habits. The complex began a Learn-to-Swim program in 2010 for youth and adults, and serves approximately 250 individuals. The facility also hosts several end-of-the-year functions for local schools where approximately 4,000 children are exposed to the university environment through participation in activities and social functions. Finally, the complex houses roughly 50 special events annually that are typically open to the general public, with attendance that ranges from 20-200 participants. These numbers indicate the large volume of traffic participating in the WRSC.
Despite the appeal of the WRSC, health and wellness continues to encounter challenges on campus. The rates of obesity and diabetes in the Rio South Texas region are some of the highest in the nation, and are currently at unsustainable levels. This health crisis is a result of many factors, including poverty, but can be reversed with the incorporation of the sustainability values. Public parks and community recreation centers not only promote physical activity, but also provide a social outlet for members of a community. If these centers are widely available to many members within a diverse demographic scale, then they can also promote social justice.
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