7th Graders Go Free

It’s not easy being a 7th grader.  You’re too old for kids’ stuff, but adulthood — aka high school — is still sooooo far away.

At least the Westport Y has your back.

Starting Wednesday (June 22), the Y will provide free — yes, as in “you don’t have to pay a cent” — memberships to all 7th grade boys and girls in the Westport and Weston school districts.

Yes, all.

7th graders can be bored. Or they can go to the Westport Y. For free.

It would be nice to say this is the Westport Y’s idea, but it’s not.  It’s modeled on similar initiatives at Ys around the country.  The goal, the Y says, is to “promote the well-being of young adolescents at a critical juncture in their development, with enhanced self-esteem and increased understanding of the importance of exercise and healthy nutrition throughout the teen years and into adulthood.”

Also, probably, to reach a target population that increasingly is lured by fancy health clubs, video games, hi-def entertainment centers, and whatever else kids do with what little free time they have these days.  (You don’t want to know.)

But hey, free is free.  It’s a great deal, and though the Y may not have the uber-modern equipment of some clubs, it does offer 2 pools, 2 basketball and 3 squash courts.

To activate their free membership, students must bring a school ID or report card to the Family Y, plus a parent or guardian.  (It’s a tossup which of those items kids will find harder to get hold of.)

Each student is asked to commit to at least 1 volunteer opportunity, such as a special event like the Strong Kids Triathlon in September, or a long-term experience like Teen Volunteer Corps.  They must also take a group tour of the facility, and orientation sessions in the Fitness Center.

Free programs and activities available to 7th grade members include open swims and open gyms, fitness orientations, special group exercise classes, racquet sports and spinning classes.  A list of offerings is available at  www.westporty.org (click on “7th Grade Activities”).

The initial response from parents has been positive, the Y says.  And why not?  For once, you can’t argue about the price.

(Funding comes from the Family Y’s Strong Kids Campaign.  For details about the 7th Grade Initiative, call Dave Cohen at 203-226-8981, ext. 109, or email dcohen@westporty.org.)

3 responses to “7th Graders Go Free

  1. Maybe these kids will come up with another iteration of a car club like the Downshifters which was an out growth of a program like this at the Y in the late 50’s.

  2. Was it also free in the 1960s for junior high kids? I remember playing badminton, shooting hoops, and playing pool back then but I don’t recall having a membership card. Nor do I think my family had a membership; I don’t remember any of them using the facilities. Perhaps the Dude Abides can shed some light on this.

  3. The Dude Abides

    I am sure we had membership cards. One had to show it at the counter on the second floor, main lobby, before descending below to the pool table area. Knowing my parents, the cost must have been minimal. They wouldn’t buy me soccer shoes until my junior year at Staples. I think it is wonderful that the YMCA is attempting to seduce more kids to use the Y facilities. Back when, it was a haven for independence and fun. I am not sure that all these structured athletic programs in town offer that today.