Model Communities Grant Provides Park District with a New Exergaming System. By Des Plaines Park District On August 24, The Des Plaines Park District installed a new Makoto Interactive Light Arena II exergaming system in the Game Room of the Des Plaines Teen Center. The purchase of this new fitness game was made possible by a $9,495 grant from Model Communities, and was facilitated by Mr. Derek Peebles, who is a civil engineer with the City of Des Plaines. The grant monies were made available to suburban Cook County organizations as part of the effort to show children how to make healthy lifestyle and nutrition choices, and help to prevent childhood obesity. For the Teens in the Des Plaines Park District Game Room challenge the new past several years, the Teen Center has Makoto Arena II exergaming system. featured games that encourage children to leave the computer screen and get physical. The Dance Dance Revolution and Jumpin’ Jackpot machines use a combination of lights and sounds which motivate participants to challenge the equipment and each other. “The new Makoto II fits perfectly with the Park District’s core focus of bringing fitness and wellness activities to our youth,” said John Hecker, Executive Director for the Des Plaines Park District. “The Makoto Arena II engages participants’ reflexes and brain power, it’s fun, exciting, and simple to use,” he continued. Players stand within a triangular arena created by three six-foot towers. Each tower has targets that illuminate and sound a tone in a random order. Using a wand or a ball grip, the object is to tap each target as quickly as possible when it lights up. The game features variable speeds, customizable light patterns, and eight gaming action choices that accommodate individual and team play. “We selected the Makoto Arena II for the Teen Center after extensive research, because, in addition to fitness benefits, the Makoto also delivers documented benefits to participants who have a wide range of sensory issues and mental limitations, including those suffering from ADD or AD/HD,” Hecker said. According to a letter from Joe Cantu, a Special Needs Teacher in Naperville, the use of the Makoto has helped his students “regain focus, relieve stress, and fill their visual and physical sensory needs.” “I read a statement by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Rehabilitation Medicine who said, ‘The more you engage the Makoto, the more your scores improve. This motivates you to do it more…which improves your confidence and outlook on life.’ and I knew that this was exactly what we wanted for the youth of Des Plaines.” The Des Plaines Teen Center, 2222 Birch Street, is open Monday through Friday from 2:30 until 7:00pm. For more information about Des Plaines Park District facilities, events, and programs visit www.DPParks.org or call 847-391-5700.