WESTFIELD, NJ – Westfield Area YMCA’s popular 7th Grade Initiative celebrated its kickoff on Thursday evening at the Main Y Facility in downtown Westfield.

Seventh graders from Westfield and the surrounding towns of Cranford, Garwood and Mountainside were present. It was an evening dedicated to health education and active fun, all while informing students and families of what the 7th Grade Initiative is all about.

Director of Physical Programs at the Westfield Area YMCA Amanda Aguirre described the program to attendees.

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“We have three areas of focus at the Y: Youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Aguirre explained. “The 7th Grade Initiative was created to help young people learn habits to help them be healthy for the rest of their lives.”

Aguirre also discussed the value of healthy lifestyle choices, the perks of being involved at the Y, and helpful tools that middle schoolers can use to stay informed about upcoming classes and events.

Paul Marden, CEO of UnitedHealthcare New Jersey, said he was thrilled to be present at the event and excited to sponsor the 7th Grade Initiative.

“The Westfield Area YMCA does an amazing job with this program,” Marden said. “These events are always crowded and there are a lot of great activities. Over the last nine years, the Initiative has continued to grow as more and more YMCAs want to get involved.”

Marden went on to describe the excitement each year that surrounds the Health Bee, a big part of the 7th Grade Initiative.

“The Health Bee is a Jeopardy-style trivia game based on health education,” Marden explained. “The middle schoolers meet with an advisor after school to study up on the three categories: food and nutrition, physical fitness and general health and science. The winners receive prizes for their school. It’s really a great event that gets all of these students and families involved.”

Seventh graders who sign up for the Initiative receive a free Y membership for the 2017-2018 school year, one-on-one meetings with a strength trainer, access to various age specific events, and a variety of other benefits aimed at guiding kids through an important time in their development.

To learn more about the 7th Grade Initiative Program, click here. You can also contact Amanda Aguirre at 908-301-9622 x258 or aaguirre@westfieldynj.org.