Coffee Talk Anyone? Lattes and Healthy Lifestyle Tips in Tampa, Florida

Girl running while flying kite

Coffee is something many of us reach for once that morning alarm clock goes off. In Tampa, Florida, Fit Kids Playground founder and the We Can!® Summer Champion Marisa Langford uses coffee to draw in parents for the We Can! Parent Program.

Her "Coffee and Healthy Conversations for Parents" program, in collaboration with health and wellness committees in local schools, inspires parents to take a hands-on approach to healthy living with their children, focusing on active lifestyles and positive food choices.

Picture of Fit Kids Playground founder and We Can! Summer Champion Marisa Langford.

Langford named the We Can! Parent Program "Coffee and Healthy Conversations for Parents" to draw attention and increase the number of parents signing up. These classes are successful in part because Langford promotes the fact that We Can! is not a weight loss program, but a healthy lifestyle facilitator. We Can! tip sheets provide guidance to parents and give them the confidence they need to implement healthy habits in their family. She also partnered with Whole Foods Market Tampa and their healthy cooking classes as well as the Tampa Downtown Partnership, the City of Tampa, and Tampa Bay Markets to promote her programming with a larger audience.

"Fast forwarding to where we are today, I am proud of how far the mission of Fit Kids Playground—'Real Kids. Real Change. Really Simple.' has come," said Langford. "Fit Kids Playground has become a leader in the community to get conversations started about health and wellness. We want to help families live healthier lives in the communities we are a part of."

She founded Fit Kids Playground in 2009 and became a registered general community site to show parents how simple it is to create healthy habits for their families. The program earned the 2011 Community Assistance Award to continue carrying out We Can! programming. Fit Kids Playground sponsors free monthly community events for families in the Tampa area that promote healthy, fun, and active lifestyles while also holding We Can! Parent Program sessions at local venues. The Fit Kids Playground motto, "Real Kids. Real Change. Real Simple." made Marisa a perfect fit for this season's We Can! Champion.

Get to know Marisa Langford, this season's We Can! champion, with a brief Q&A below:

1. What prompted your interest to help families in your community become more physically active and nutrition conscious?
I have two children that were diagnosed with a rare condition at birth. My mission as a mother to keep my own children healthy made me more aware of the issues at hand with keeping all children healthy. I launched my first event for Fit Kids Playground in 2009. It was a huge success, but it also made me realize that there was much more to be done than just talk about healthy lifestyles one day a year.

2. What is your favorite healthy recipe to prepare for your family?
I like to cook balanced and healthy meals. Making anything from scratch always tastes so much better than buying something pre-made or made from the box. Grilling chicken or steak, along with a healthy side of asparagus and some red potatoes will always please my family. Of course, living in Florida, fresh strawberries for dessert are always a hit too! We like to eat together as a family and talk about the kinds of food we are eating. I've really made this a point at every meal we eat.

3. What is your favorite physical activity to participate in; and do you ever encourage others to participate with you?
I love participating in sprint triathlons because of the variety of sports in a single event. Swimming, biking, and running are all so fun and fun to do with my family. I value the time I spend with my son when we wake up early to run and bike together.

4. Where do you see your We Can! program in 5 years? What are your long term goals for the program?
I can see the We Can! program finding roots in the local community as well as extending outside the Tampa Bay area. We are looking to expand the Fit Kids Playground to more cities in the Florida area as well, promoting healthy lifestyles for children and families to a variety of new organizations.

5. What has been your most memorable experience since starting We Can! in Tampa?
The free community events that we have launched at local parks and community farmers markets have proven to be a wonderful opportunity for local parents and families to gain awareness about the We Can! program and messaging. Our events make sure to highlight our ability to provide programming to schools and community centers.

6. What is your favorite 'GO' food?
My favorite 'GO' food is a salad loaded up with lots of 'GO' foods on top! I love a salad with spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, carrots, peppers, apples, and even adding some grilled chicken. It's the perfect quick and healthy meal.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013