Wake County

SERA wins award for 'Dancing in the Park' exercise series

The Southeast Raleigh Assembly Inc. on Thursday was recognized for encouraging physical fitness through its "Dancing in the Park" exercise series.

The Wake County Council on Fitness and Health presented its inaugural "Excellence Award" to SERA, which draws thousands of people to Chavis Park each summer for a group dance class.

Rita Anita Linger, president and chief executive officer of SERA, said promoting health is a critical component of the group's efforts to boost economic development in Southeast Raleigh.

"Without being healthy, without being well, you won't be able to achieve your goals," she said.

Linger said that participants in the organization's focus groups stressed the need for physical activity and easily accessible programming, leading to the creation of Dancing in the Park five years ago.

This summer, 600 people showed up to one of two weekly classes than ran for eight weeks. SERA staff members bring additional services, such as health screenings or information about the group's other programs, to participants.

Leon Bullard, chairman of the health council, said the award seeks to honor indiviudals and honors that go beyond the scope of their usual work to encourage fitness.

SERA has "taken it upon themselves to include that [physical activity] component in developing the whole person, which is a part of developing the whole community," he said.