WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Area YMCA along with UnitedHealthcare kicked off their annual 7th Grade Initiative program Thursday night. About 40 seventh graders from Westfield, Cranford, Garwood and Mountainside and their families enjoyed refreshments, fun activities, fitness testing, a climbing wall and advice from personal trainers and a nutritionist.

“The kickoff went great,” Amanda Aguirre, director of physical programs at the YMCA, said. “Everyone was excited to start the new school year with all of the Y’s health, wellness and sports activities that are offered through the seventh grade initiative program.”

The 7th Grade Initiative was designed to heighten awareness and combat the epidemic of youth obesity that our community and nation are currently facing.  Research indicates that seventh grade is a key year in a child’s development of attitudes and behaviors regarding body image, nutrition and self-esteem, according to the YMCA. The goal of the 7th Grade Initiative is to help kids pass through this critical time of development with a healthy self-image and a thorough understanding of the importance of exercise and nutrition throughout the teen years and into adulthood. 

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Registration is ongoing for members and non-members and can be done by either in-person at the Welcome Center or online if you are a Westfield Area YMCA member. All participants who do not currently have an active Y membership will receive a complimentary Westfield Area YMCA limited pre-teen program plus membership for the school year 2016-2017. 

The program also includes use of exercise equipment, open swim and gym time; free orientation to use exercise equipment; five one-on-one orientations with a strength trainer (complete all five and get a free shirt); pre and post-fitness testing; access to Friday night teen night; family fitness lectures and events; free classes and programs including Intro to Strength Training and Fencing; Togetherhood community service projects; and access to more classes  and programs at member rates.

The 7th Grade Initiative also offers students the opportunity to participate in the Annual UnitedHealthcare Health Bee, a quiz-show style competition that test students’ knowledge about health and fitness topics. 

For more information, contact Aguirre at 908-233-2700 x258 or e-mail aaguirre@westfieldynj.org.

The Westfield Area Y is an advertiser of TAPinto Cranford.