VAN WERT – The YWCA of Van Wert County will be providing a six-week program for area sixth grade athletes wanting to improve their overall health and fitness, elevate athletic performance, and build flexibility, balance, coordination, stamina, speed and agility. Additional grade levels may be added in the future, as this program addresses the specific needs of youth between the ages of 10-14.

“This program focuses on essential movement fundamentals for the entire body to prepare young athletes for sport participation,” stated Casey Hammons, YWCA Certified Personal Trainer and NETA JR Fit Youth Fitness Specialist. “In my opinion, too many kids get thrown into sports before they have developed any athleticism and then become discouraged as they aren’t as good as they’d like to be.

"In this program, the kids will compete against themselves, as we will track the progress of each individual athlete in each component of athletics," Hammons added. "I believe putting kids in sports to keep them active is actually having a reverse affect in a lot of cases and causing kids to become discouraged in themselves and adding to the problem of childhood obesity. This sort of program will be fun, creative, and help encourage the kids, with the necessary fundamentals."

The program will be held at the YWCA of Van Wert County on Mondays and Wednesday, starting Oct. 22, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. The week of Thanksgiving will be off, with the program extending into the first week of December.

Registration may be done in person at the YWCA between the business hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays or by calling 419-238-6639. The cost is $30 per child. Class size is limited and a waiver must be completed before participation.

“We have been approached by a number of parents within this age group to offer such a program and Casey saw such a need locally that she received an additional certification specifically for youth," said J.J. McClain, health and wellness coordinator at the YWCA. "We are excited to be able to continue to work towards our mission of improving the health and safety of those in our community through programs such as this."

Questions may be directed to or by calling McClain at the YWCA of Van Wert County. The YWCA is a non-profit organization and a United Way and Van Wert County Foundation agency.