Going for the Gold at World Health Day LA

Hundreds of locals, volunteers and athletes gathered at the Los Angeles Expo Center on April 7 to promote health and fitness at World Health Day L.A. and to kick off a national Olympics awareness walk.

“It was so great to see the hard work we put into this event all year pay off,” said Mariya Stepanenko, this year’s World Health Day L.A. director and USC public health graduate student. “We’re happy the community took advantage of our free health screenings, entertainment and all of the sports activities—I think it was a great success and everyone had a lot of fun.”

With coaching from USC football players, athletics groups and student volunteers, local kids sampled a range of sports including archery, Zumba, football, basketball and soccer. Throughout the day, musicians and performing artists entertained the crowd.

Through partnership with the SoCal Olympians organization, a dozen Olympians, including United States Olympians Association President Willie Banks, participated in the day’s activities and kicked off the national “Walk to London 2012” campaign with a community march around the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, led by the Trojan Marching Band.

Banks said the partnership was an effort to align similar interests in community health. “We have two great universities there—one, of course, being USC. It’s a wonderful thing to have them,” Banks, a UCLA graduate, said during a press conference.

World Health Day L.A. is a student-run event overseen by USC, UCLA and Western University of Health Sciences. The universities come together each year for the event to promote healthy lifestyles in the community.