EAST ORANGE, NJ –  Head coaches of the Arjahz Soccer Academy and the William Paterson University’s men’s basketball team ran drills with East Orange children this week to inspire their passion for playing sports.

The East Orange YMCA sponsored the events on Monday and Tuesday in celebration of Healthy U, a program created in 2008 by the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance and the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey to combat childhood obesity through nutrition education, physical education and family involvement.

Richard Coore, president and head coach of the Arjahz Soccer Academy, ran drill with kids in the East Orange Y’s after-school program on Monday, and Jose Rebimbas, head coach of the William Paterson University men’s basketball team, worked with them on Tuesday.

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“The kids had a blast learning techniques from the coaches, and just playing,’’ said Gabriel Paul, the interim executive director and business administrator of the East Orange YMCA. “Our goal through the Healthy U initiative is to instill in children an enjoyment and appreciation of exercising and eating well so they develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.’’

Childhood obesity is an epidemic that puts kids at risk for serious health problems. It’s estimated that one in three children is obese or overweight.

Using the evidenced-based Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum, Healthy U touches the lives of more than 46,000 children statewide at more than 500 YMCAs and elementary schools. It is now the largest and most comprehensive childhood obesity prevention program in the country.

The Horizon Foundation has already invested $5 million in Healthy U, and it has pledged another $1.25 million to support the program for the next four years. 

“We are grateful to the Horizon Foundation for the funding and to school districts for playing an integral part of implementing the Healthy U program,’’ Richard K. Gorab, president and CEO of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges. The East Orange Y is one of six branches of the Metro YMCA, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey with more than 35,000 members.

ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving more than 35,000 individuals and providing more than $1.2 million in direct financial assistance. Its six YMCAs, located in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne, are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility. They offer an array of programs that build spirit, mind and body for people of all ages and all circumstances.