Director of Santa Ana Parks, Recreation and Community Service Agency
“A lot of families don’t have the means to do a lot of recreation activities or be part of 24 Hour Fitness,” says Gerardo Mouet, Santa Ana’s executive director of the Parks, Recreation and Community Service Agency. “One of the only opportunities for active living and exercise is parks and recreations programs and services.”
Mouet has spent 16 years working for the City of Santa Ana, and assumed the top job at Parks and Recreation two years ago. The city has some of the highest obesity rates in the state—more than 70 percent of adults are overweight or obese, according to a 2005 county report cited by the Los Angeles Times—but residents have few opportunities to be physically active.
“We need to be committed to doing everything we can to promote physical activity in order to combat the public health problems,” says Mouet. “Normally, parks and recreation [departments] don’t do that.”
Mouet didn’t waste any time enhancing the agency’s programs and services. Under his leadership, Santa Ana has made extensive improvements to parks, including extending bicycle trail networks and opening the river corridor to recreation. Mouet also increased the number of physical activity programs offered through the agency and distributed a program guide to every household in Santa Ana.
His agency also launched an innovative program to regain open spaces for active living. The SALUD initiative (Safe and Active Living United Districts; SALUD means “health” in Spanish) began by improving a community trail in the Madison Park neighborhood, and will have programs in six neighborhoods by the end of 2006.
“Active living is a core function of my agency,” Mouet says.
California Center for Public Health Advocacy
Santa Ana Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency
Active Living by Design