© USA Gymnastics

CHICAGO, Feb. 20, 2009 – In recognition of their hard work, approximately 400 of the 4,400 gymnasts who participated in the Chicago Park District’s Tyson Fitness Challenge earned tickets to attend the 2009 Tyson American Cup on Feb. 21 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. For six weeks, gymnasts at Chicago Park District facilities took part in the Tyson Fitness Challenge, a local six-week fitness initiative geared to help today’s youth achieve active, healthy lifestyles.

USA Gymnastics partnered with Chicago 2016, World Sport Chicago and the Chicago Park District to hold the Tyson Fitness Challenge as part of community-based programming to promote sport and engage young people in physical activity, as well as to get them excited about the 2009 Tyson American Cup.

"We are very excited to welcome participants from the Tyson Fitness Challenge to the Tyson American Cup," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "During the six weeks, they learned about the importance of remaining physically fit and following a well-balanced diet. We hope this will serve as the beginning of lifelong habits of physical activity and healthy eating."

As part of its contribution, World Sport Chicago worked with global health care company Abbott to sponsor 400 tickets to the Tyson American Cup for Chicago Park District youth, all of whom participated in the Tyson Fitness Challenge this winter.

"The Tyson Fitness Challenge aligns with our goals to bring programming to youth that shows how participation in sport and a healthy and active lifestyle can lead to new opportunities," said Bill Scherr, chairman of World Sport Chicago. "Being able to bring kids from the Chicago Park District program to such a prestigious event is an ideal way to further engage and excite them about all that sport has to offer."

The Chicago Park District incorporated the fitness program into its gymnastics curriculum, focusing on four fundamental components: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and nutrition. Each of these is critical to developing a strong fitness base for everyone, not only those in the sport of gymnastics, but also those participating in other sports and activities.

The Tyson Fitness Challenge started the second week of January and concluded this past week.

"This challenge was a perfect opportunity to engage our youth and emphasize the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and exercise," said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Timothy Mitchell.

The Tyson Fitness Challenge in the Chicago Park District is part of a national program that is held in gymnastics clubs across the country throughout the year. In addition, the national Tyson Fitness Challenge is the vehicle for the gymnastics community to raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network as part of annual celebrations for National Gymnastics Day. In just eight years, the gymnastics family has raised more than $1 million for the Children’s Miracle Network. National Gymnastics Day for 2009 is Sept. 12. Click for more information on the Tyson Fitness Challenge and/or the Tyson American Cup.