With a new statewide initiative in place, the Garver Memorial YMCA in Roaring Spring has one clear message: If you're in seventh grade, you're in.
The Garver YMCA has partnered with the Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs to promote its Seventh Grade Membership initiative, which provides a variety of programming and a free one-year membership to all seventh-graders in the area.
Rod Feather, executive director of the Garver YMCA, said the initiative was adopted as a means to both fight childhood obesity and get kids off the streets.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Donovan Mock, 15, of Duncansville does his best M.C. Hammer dance at the Garver Memorial YMCA?in Roaring Spring.
"This was a way to celebrate more of a positive image for the kids, to be involved with sports, athletics and getting in shape instead of going home and sitting on the computer or playing video games," he said.
Staff and supporters of the Garver YMCA are still working to promote the new program, but they have already held such events as a family night, a teen dance and sessions with a personal trainer.
Melissa Glunt, a fitness trainer for the Garver YMCA, said she's enjoyed working with seventh-graders for whom she's given introductions to using the weight room.
"For some, besides sports or gym class, they haven't done anything like this," she said.
With the free membership and opportunity to partake in a variety of activities, Glunt said she hopes more children and parents take the offer. She called it a "very positive program."
"I wish they would do it with other ages, too," she said. "But [the seventh-graders] were really receptive and really eager to learn. It's a good age group to teach."
Wendy Rossman of Roaring Spring whose daughter, Hannah, 13, is taking part in the program, said she believes it will help Hannah and any seventh-grader "nurture a better lifestyle."
"It helps build their self-esteem," Rossman said. "Hopefully, she'll be a better all-around adult from what she's getting and learning from the Y."
Hannah said she's enjoyed doing gymnastics and playing basketball at the Garver YMCA, and she'd tell other seventh-graders to get involved with the program.
"It gave me a chance to do some fun stuff," she said. "It can give you something to do and be more interactive with other people."
Feather said they do hope the program can provide a nurturing social atmosphere, as well as one that promotes a healthier lifestyle. Plans for the future include holding Zumba classes and possibly a self-defense seminar.
"It's getting kids active and introducing them to a lifetime fitness program and a way to make their life better," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.