By Special to the Daily World
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and play in your favorite park with family and friends. That’s why Coca-Cola has teamed up with the City of Atlanta Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell to celebrate summer and encourage Atlanta families to go out and play as part of the second annual “America Is Your Park” campaign.

At a community event on July 25,  Coca-Cola awarded a $10,000 recreation grant to Washington Park. The grant goes toward a shade structure to cover outdoor exercise equipment donated by the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA).

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell,  State Sen. Vincent Fort, George Dusenbury, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, City of Atlanta Chief Service Officer Amy Phuong, Park Pride Executive Director Margaret Gray Connelly, Morehouse School of Medicine’s Dr. Daniel Blumenthal and Atlanta Dream owner Mary Brock were on hand for the check presentation and to help Atlanta residents discover fun places in the park to get active.

“Enjoying the offerings your local park provides is a simple way to incorporate physical activity in your life,” said Commissioner George Dusenbury. “We appreciate the positive impact Coca-Cola’s commitment to Washington Park will make to Atlanta residents.”

Participants at Monday’s event also enjoyed a ribbon-cutting for the new fitness equipment donated by AFCRA in May and a tour of Washington Park.

“I am pleased to be a part of Coca-Cola’s donation to Washington Park,” said Mitchell. “As a lifelong Atlantan, whose mother lives here in Washington Park, it gives me great pleasure to see this community be the recipient of such a wonderful addition which encourages our residents to be more active and fit.”

As part of Coca-Cola’s partnership with the WNBA, the event also featured a WNBA clinic for more than 75 local boys and girls from Atlanta’s Camp Best Friends program.

Led by WNBA legend Rushia Brown, the children participated in fitness skills and drills that encouraged them to get outside and play this summer. Brown, a 6-2 forward, began her WNBA career with the Cleveland Rockers in 1997, and ultimately played a significant role for Cleveland in 2000 and 2001.

The event concluded with Camp Best Friends participants enjoying donated SUBWAY Kids Fresh Fit lunches.

In the spirit of volunteerism, Coca-Cola employees partnered with Park Pride and members of the Washington Park community for a clean-up event on July 23 to get the grounds ready for the  event.

In addition to the grant announcement, Coca-Cola also calls on Georgia residents to go to to help their favorite park win the title of “America’s Favorite Park” and a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by Coca-Cola’s Live Positively initiative.

“Georgia’s parks are incredible resources to play and spend time with family and friends, and most Georgia residents are within a short drive of a state park,” said Becky Kelley, director of Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “The America Is Your Park initiative reminds us all that having fun at parks can be an invaluable part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.”

Last year, thanks to more than 1.6 million votes cast by its supporters, Bear Head Lake State Park in Ely, Minn., was named “America’s Favorite Park.” The park used the recreation grant to build a new warming hut to ensure safety and comfort for winter sports enthusiasts all season long.

“Our national, state and local parks provide families with a place to be more active outdoors, and we hope our contributions make them even more attractive to nearby residents,” said Susanne Geldart, vice president of sales operations for Coca-Cola Refreshments. “Coca-Cola is passionate about restoring, rebuilding and renovating our nation’s parks, and we’re proud to recognize Washington Park with an America Is Your Park grant to contribute to the enhancement of this vital community park.”

For more than 40 years, Coca-Cola has supported America’s parks through partnerships with individual parks and national park organizations. The company has most recently donated $1 million to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation’s Peopling of America Center, a new initiative that will tell the story of the immigration experience in America.

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