HUNTINGTON PARK, Calif. – It takes a lot of drive to wake up early and run every day before school.

But this wasn't always the case for Joshlyn Ramirez, until something new arrived at Huntington Park High School.

"The fitness center, it motivated me and I just want to keep a healthy lifestyle," said Ramirez.


This fitness center in the high school features new state-of-the-art equipment, donated by the University of California Los Angeles Health Sound Body Sound Mind program. When Ramirez saw it for the first time she was stunned.

"I was like wow, this stuff is really nice we better take care of it and all," said Ramirez.

The program's mission is to promote self-confidence and healthy lifestyle choices in young people. The goal is push them to not only start moving and eating healthier meals, but to change their mindsets around physical fitness and nutrition to take into adulthood.

Before the program arrived at Huntington Park High, Ramirez didn't think about fitness, and she refused to eat vegetables that her mother would try to feed her.




"She would think I would eat it but I would secretly put it in a sandwich baggie and just hide it in my pocket or something. I would go to the bathroom and I would just put it in the toilet and flush it down," said Ramirez.

UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind is in more than 130 schools across Los Angeles, impacting more than 170,000 students per year.

The majority of fitness centers are in low-income communities where access to safe resources are limited. UCLA Health Dr. Alma Guerrero focuses on promoting healthy weight.

In L.A. alone, four-in-10 children are considered overweight or obese with low-income, high minority communities being the most vulnerable.

"In a community like Huntington Park where it's largely Latino community and you can see pockets of low-income neighborhoods the rates there are closer to about one-in-two," said Dr. Alma Guerrero.

The program's impact in Huntington Park is touching more than the school for the first time it has partnered with Parks & Recreation to provide both outdoor and indoor equipment at Salt Lake Park for the entire community to use.

But for Ramirez, her lifestyle has changed dramatically as she has implemented healthy habits from this program.

She now eats veggies and it only took about a month after using the fitness center and running that she noticed a shift.

"I was pretty negative before and after working out and eating healthier I'm more energized, I have a positive mentality now," said Ramirez.

A healthier lifestyle to cultivate a sound body and sound mind.

Supported by a grant from UniHealth Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization whose mission it is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities within its service area.