BASKING RIDGE, NJ – To encourage adolescents to develop healthy behaviors, Somerset County YMCA is offering all seventh grade students in Somerset County a free, one-year membership.

As part of this program, seventh graders will have opportunities to grow through healthy decision-making, friends with common interests, volunteerism, weekly social activities and special events. Additionally, they have access to Wellness Centers, pools, basketball gyms and group exercise classes specifically tailored to teens.

Membership is valid September through August and is offered at Bridgewater YMCA, Hillsborough YMCA, Somerville YMCA and Somerset Hills YMCA. Students entering seventh grade can enroll by

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completing a membership application and bringing their seventh grade schedule to the Welcome Center at any branch.

As a cause-driven nonprofit organization, the Y is focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y’s Seventh Grade Membership Program provides opportunities for teens to cultivate values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement.

The 7th grade membership program is a statewide initiative that was conceived by the NJ YMCA State Alliance in 2008 to support teens and encourage them to adopt healthy lifestyles at an age where they are tempted to make risky behavioral choices.

“As teens begin to face the many challenges of adolescence, it is critical that they have a strong foundation from which they can build a bright future,” said David M. Carcieri, President and CEO of Somerset County YMCA.

“The Y is a place where they feel comfortable and can grow in spirit, mind and body. We are proud to support parents by offering seventh graders a free membership and opportunities to exercise good decision-making," she added.

The program allows seventh graders to participate in activities that encourage healthy living.

“As a school health professional, I understand that health and education go hand-in-hand in preparing children for academic success. Healthy students simply learn better,” said Suzanne Ryan, School Nurse at Bernardsville Middle School.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the Y’s 7th Grade Initiative Membership makes a difference in the emotional, social and physical development of students. This program instills healthy lifestyle behaviors and the kids find a sense of belonging without the pressures of school or team sports," she added.

"As seventh graders become more involved in social and physical activities with their peers, they gain a sense of confidence, healthy friendships and a positive outlook on life. The Y’s 7th Grade Initiative program really is life changing,” Ryan said.

Membership applications are available at the Welcome Center at each Y, or they can be downloaded at

For information about Somerset County YMCA and financial assistance, visit us