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      YMCA strikes back at childhood obesity

      It's a program that could change lives. The YMCA??s ??Before, After School, and Summer Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Program" aims at helping elementary students combat the childhood obesity epidemic.

      "People are really excited about it, and I think those busy working parents are excited to have their kids get education, have fun, learn, exercise," said Jenna Zdunek, Senior Health and Wellness Leader at the YMCA of Marquette County.

      The program will take place at Lakeview Elementary in Negaunee and Birchview Elementary in Ishpeming. It will use a "food and fun curriculum." Kids will exercise, spend time outside, learn about nutrition, and even practice healthy cooking. The Y hopes that the program will go beyond the kids and create a healthier experience for the entire family.

      "These kids have their whole lives to be active and be fun, and it's proven that if you're active and you stay healthy as a kid, you'll live a longer, happier life," said Kelsey Roy, Youth Coordinator at the Marquette YMCA.

      The Y is expecting more than 400 kids to participate, and it's all free thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health. The Marquette YMCA is one of ten organizations in Michigan to receive a grant and the only one in the U.P. The summer program is the only part that is not free; it will require a small fee to enroll.

      "We are just very blessed to have this grant and to be able to offer these programs in the west and to really help children and help families get healthy," Zdunek said.

      The Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Program will also be creating several jobs in Negaunee and Ishpeming. To apply for one, click here. http://www.ymcamqt.org/connect/work/current-opportunities.html. In the future, the Y plans to expand into other schools in Marquette County.

      The program will be up and running in the next two to three weeks. Last week, the Y was in communications with school administrators, and this week they are discussing options with parents.