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Spark burns through YMCA

About a month ago, Forrest Sterling’s mother grabbed a handout from the people at the Suffolk YMCA’s front desk. It talked about the SPARK program.

Written out, the course is entitled the Sports, Play, Activities and Recreation for Kids. Three evenings a week, the activity, free for members, helps children work out in the gym, the pool, and the exercise room. Mondays are spent in the small gymnasium in the back of the Y, in which kids play games such as kickball. On Wednesdays, children go into the fitness room for a bit of aerobics.

&uot;We jump ropes and we stretch,&uot; said Forrest’s sister Felicia. &uot;We throw a heavy (medicine) ball full of sand, and we play running games.&uot;

On Fridays, the kids hit the pool. That will change in a few weeks, however, as in late November (an estimate), the facility will take the kids into its new Teen Center, which will include a rock-climbing wall, a virtual reality workout, and other activities.

&uot;This gives our young members something to do if they’re too old for our childcare center and took young to work out,&uot; said fitness director Shannon Newbill. &uot;While their parents are taking classes, they’re with their friends. Instead of sitting around playing video games, they’re exercising and burning calories. Teen obesity is a nationwide epidemic, and we’re fighting it.&uot; According to the American Obesity Association, 15.5 percent of adolescents (ages 12 to 19) and 15.3 percent of children (ages 6 to 11) are obese.

Forrest and his sister Felicia have been doing their part.

&uot;I like kickball, because I get to kick the ball far,&uot; he said. &uot;I like when they throw the ball at me, because they always miss.&uot;

Some of the kids were there for the first time.

&uot;My family and I didn’t have anything to do, so we joined the Y,&uot; said Dionna Porter, 11. &uot;I thought (SPARK) would be fun, and it is.&uot;

&uot;I thought this would be cool,&uot; said Erin Guchert, 8. &uot;I’m happy, because I knew it would be fun.&uot;