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What do you think state health officials should do to reduce childhood obesity?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 23, 2006

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Photo of Kimberly Julian

“They should encourage teachers to stop giving young children candy as a reward and cut down on the fried foods in the lunchroom.”

Photo of Nicole Tobin

“I think it all starts at home. If you feed them junk food every day, they’ll want to eat it every day. It’s difficult to make a difference if they can eat whatever they want at home.”

Photo of Brad Russell

“They should start more awareness programs for kids and parents with public information that would be out there all the time.”

Photo of Jeremiah Hershberger

“I don’t think they can. I think it comes from the family, not from a state official.”

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southerngirl 11 years, 10 months ago

I dont think the government should do anything. Restaraunts need to stop supersizing portions so that children (and adults) get a less warped sense of portion size. Schools could serve more nutritous meals.I think we all need to slow down, get reacquainted at the breakfast/dinner tables and have more home cooked meals and less high calorie convenience meals. Kids (really all of us!) need to get out and play more-away from the television and computer games! Did I miss anything?

southerngirl 11 years, 10 months ago

I did it! I was FINALLY first! Oh yeah, oh yeah (dancing happy dance). Thanks to all of you for sleeping in and allowing me this chance to be first.

jonas 11 years, 10 months ago

Don't think you missed anything too important.

I'm with southerngal.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 10 months ago

I know -- they should ride their bikes to school in elementary school!

Oops. Never mind.

Really, I'm with southern, too. Good answer.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 10 months ago

Congratulations Southern Girl! But wait - aren't you on eastern time?


Aileen Dingus 11 years, 10 months ago

I agree- it starts at home. HOWEVER- if we were to give school lunches the attention they should receive, it would go a long way.

For example: This program has been put into use in Great Britain to some good reviews.

H_Lecter 11 years, 10 months ago

Start explaining in kindergarten that they'll never get the hot chicks if they're obese.

Also have a touring program with the corpse of an obese child, "who ate too much"

After using these to techniques, we'll set up program for anorexia. That may be easier to treat.

justsomewench 11 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps they could make a public spectacle of the fattest children around town...billboards...updates on the nightly news...enusre school principles point them out during each morning opener to give commentary on the fit of their clothes. Maybe the state could adopt a fat-kid tax, so parents are taxed at a higher rate. Better yet, family rations. State officials could tell the family how many calories they're allowed to consume and have the scale-tippers serve time on the community hamster wheel.

Or they could continue educate children (and parents) on education and nutrition and worry about things like who's pooping in the pools.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 10 months ago

congrats southern! ditto with me. get your kids outside and go with them. A hike, a bikeride, a game of kickball...these are fun for adults as well. Set a good example.

I learned last night that my daughter only get 9 weeks of PE this year. Why? Because she's in band! I guess it's OK for band kids to not exercize at school.

southerngirl 11 years, 10 months ago

Nah Gootsie, we "Midsoutherners" are on Central Time. This small victory was legit.

trinity 11 years, 10 months ago

ah, bmi testing in the schools, great! now there'd be just one more thing for a kid to get teased&feel horrid about, if theirs isn't as "good" as others!

good Lord...can't parents PARENT any more??? are they that blind and ignorant that they need government, schools, etc. to raise the tots for 'em??? sigh

paladin 11 years, 10 months ago

The President should declare a war on the fatkids. Him and Barbie and the girls aren't fat. Neither should anybody else be. There's no place for fatkids in a decent, free, democratic society. They should go back to where they came from.

imagold 11 years, 10 months ago

Laps around the roundabouts.

Lower the prices of fruits and vegetables. A good portion of us can't afford that food pyramid.

Give kids more time to eat lunch at school so they don't have to wolf down the food.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 10 months ago

well I do not think a parade of large children is the way to go, but mor PE time is a good start at school. The kids now do not have what I call any real PE time and they do not have it all year after they hit JRH. But southerngirl is right it does all start at home, but not all home cooked meals are good for you either so a more educated parent on good meal vs bad meals would go a long way.

audvisartist 11 years, 10 months ago

Why can't we just be fat dammit? If we want to have a heart attack in our early 40s, so be it! Think about the world over-crowding issues we could fix if we just croaked in our 40s and 50s instead of in our 80s and 90s! AND we wouldn't have to put up with grannies driving 15mph down 6th Street! Up until a hundred years ago or so we only lived to about 30. Why do we keep fighting what happens naturally to EVERY living being on the planet? And did you know that being fat is actually a result of evolution? Yup, back in the old days food wasn't as readily available as it is now. People that could get fat easily were able to survive longer than those that stayed skinny because the fatties had energy reserves while the skinnies didn't. If a drought or famine hit, guess who stayed alive? Yup! The fatties! Alright... I'm done.

southerngirl 11 years, 10 months ago

How do we get restaraunts to give smaller portions? I try to order the kids portions in restaraunts for myself, but often the choices are limited to hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken fingers and macaroni. I want the real restaraunt food in a smaller portion! Cracker Barrel has a nice selection on their kids menu and I order the kids meals (or smaller options off of the adult menu) at fast food places, but what about the other places??? Yes, I can and do take a doggy bag home, but often those get gross when reheating...I just want less food!

sgtwolverine 11 years, 10 months ago

aud, the problem is that obesity often causes other health problems. When you get to medicare, you then have everyone paying for obesity-related health problems.

Besides, I fail to see the connection between longer life expectancies and obesity.

paladin 11 years, 10 months ago

I had gym everyday in school when I was a skinny kid. It was the most horrible experience of my life as a kid. I truly dreaded it. It was humiliating and degrading. I would often try to skip out and hide someplace, but was usually found out. Today, I am kind of fat, but not enough to be banned or deported or sent to a weight reduction and retraining camp. In gym class I did gain some heavy insight into one portion of our society. My locker was right next to the locker of someone who is now a U.S. Congressman. He used the same towel all year, which was wadded up and tossed in the bottom of his locker. It was genuinely disgusting, and one reason I hated gym class.

Topside 11 years, 10 months ago

A good start would be to increase the nutrition standards for food that daycares can serve children. I have a child in daycare and we, and others like us, fight this all the time. When pop tarts and chocolate donuts (gems) can be serve to 2 year olds that is bad news in our book.

irnmadn88 11 years, 10 months ago

Instead of the good ol' morning "Pledge of Allegiance" how about "Drop and Give Me Twenty" ?

Do they even do the "Pledge" anymore?

Kat Christian 11 years, 10 months ago

Well gee let me see.... There isn't much time in the evenings after parents get off work, fight the traffic, pick kids up at daycare to cook a nutritious meal anymore these days. All this should have been thought about when society changed to living on credit then it became necessary for both parents to work and some even P/T work. Everyone wants that almighty dollar but when the consequences arise they are scratching their heads. So it's a wander parents stick to heating processed foods in the microwave to give to their kids. I remember when I was younger coming home from school, having time with my mom and friends to play then eating a healthy sit-down dinner with my family and still have plenty of time for homework and a little TV. I still say work days should be on 6 hours so we have more quality time with our families.

Aileen Dingus 11 years, 10 months ago

Sunflower_sue- is your daughter in marching band? That would explain the lack of gym requirement. Marching band is just about the best exercise there is that isn't "excercise" like going to a gym. It burns fat and builds muscle, as well as increasing lung capacity.

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

My kids came home and said their junior high school lunches have changed, thanks to the new regulations, and the food is worse than before. So now my kids are taking their lunch, which may be a little cheaper, and I know what they are eating for lunch (ham sandwich, fruit, chips, applesauce, granola bar, and probably something sweet).

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

I think parents know what food it healthy, but that doesn't mean they can afford to buy it all the time, or that kids will eat it. My kids are very picky veggie eaters, but love fresh fruit. I am fortunate that I can afford to buy several varieties every week, and visit the farmers market during the summer. But I know families that can't, and even I have been in that circumstance over 10 years ago.
I know home made breaded chicken tenders cooked in butter isn't the healthiest meal, but sometimes you have to fix what they will eat. We will order pizza once every couple of weeks, and then there is a weekly Chipotle's fix, but I feel less guilty about that.
And with prices rising every day, due to the inflated price of gasoline, less families will be able to afford healthier foods, as micro-wave foods are cheaper.

gphawk89 11 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely nothing. It's not the state's responsibility. Parents should feed their kids in a healthy manner and encourage exercise (don't force exercise but make it fun). Mine did.

And let's call fat kids "fat" rather than some stupid PC term like obese or "horizontally gifted". They're fat. Maybe if we make it sound bad, rather than sugar coating it, kids will get the idea that it's not ok to be FAT.

justathought 11 years, 10 months ago

Well I think school lunches are awful! Most of them are more than half (way more) the calories I eat in a day. Neither one of my boys are even slightly heavy. We walk to and from school each day and play outside after a home cooked meal (most nights lol). Trust me though my boys eat sweets but alot of the time they are made from scratch by me. MOST children are born with the ability to STOP eating when they are full, to eat when they are actually hungry and not just because things sound good.

 It's odd, most of the overweight kids I know come from parents who are trying to deny their kids. It seems the more you say no cookies, juice, pop ect. the more the kids crave it and go overboard when they have those thing you've been denying them.

Just a thought..

craigers 11 years, 10 months ago

Usually obese people are just dealing with their life problems different than others. Some eat when they get down and others can't eat. Encouraging kids and telling them to be themselves and not having a school where kids call you fat for being overweight could help a lot. Kids have eating disorders because they want to be accepted as the norm, so be careful how you start calling people fat.

However, I do like the horizontally gifted term. Another could be vertical challenged since we know that overweight people can't jump as high.

beatrice 11 years, 10 months ago

Raise the bar on how fat a kid must be before they are called obese. That would instantly reduce the numbers -- well done state health officials! Call the change "No Child's Fat Behind Left."

Physical activity is the key, so more PE, encourage kids to ride their bikes to school, encourage kids to go outside and play, not just linger indoors playing video games. Serve real food at the schools.

southerngal, here in Phoenix I am two hours behind y'all (we don't have daylight savings), so actually I am first once you factor in the time zones. nanananana

beatrice 11 years, 10 months ago

Doh! It looks like I missed in my attempt at humor by an hour. You go sg.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 10 months ago

Dazie, she will start marching at some point this year...not sure exactly when. That's a good point you made. I was never in marching band and so didn't equate it with "actual exercize." Good thing she picked a nice, heavy instrument to carry. Ha! (maybe I'll invest in a harp.) She's not overweight, though...just lacking in the "I want to exercize" genes.

joshs_mom 11 years, 10 months ago

We went to our son's elementary open house last night. We toured the classroom and the teacher gave a small presentation about his plans for the year. We also were given some handouts. One handout was on this very topic.

If you want to participate as a volunteer for class parties (Halloween, etc) you must now follow the guidelines for healthy foods set forth in the pamphlet. If you bring treats, they must be healthier items like graham crackers, trail mix, dried fruit. etc.

I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing! Some the parents in the past bring frosting-laden cupcakes, etc. Of course I am guilty too as last year we brought candy and treats (did include some Halloween themed school supplies) for the Halloween party.

The funny thing about this was last night was also the annual "Ice Cream Social" at the school. So there were kids and parents alike out on the playground eating ice cream and cookies after the presentation. We weren't the only parents who thought that was ironic.

JHawker 11 years, 10 months ago

Everyone should watch "Supersize Me" again if they haven't already! i agree with southerngirl...

craigers 11 years, 10 months ago

There has to be a mix. You can't just go crazy and never let kids have treats. Come on that was the greatest part about birthdays is that the mom or dad would bring cupcakes. Don't forget what it is like to be a kid and let them have fun once in awhile.

mssking1 11 years, 10 months ago

Once again the city, state or any other govt agency is trying to raise our children. Parents---be smart enough to limit the fatty foods your children eat and decrease their time sitting in front of the TV or video games but INCREASE the time they spend running, jumping, walking, hopping, etc. PARENTS RAISE YOUR CHILDREN DON'T LET OUTSIDE AGENCIES DO IT FOR YOU!!

sunflower_sue 11 years, 10 months ago

I agree w/ Craigers. What kind of a party serves carrot sticks and graham crackers? It's a party! "Let them eat cake." They can have the carrot sticks for lunch. They don't get a party every day. If there was 1 party a week that would still be fine w/ me.

Aileen Dingus 11 years, 10 months ago

Sue- I tell you what- I was never in better shape than when I marched. The last year I marched in college I was pregnant- gained a total of 5lbs and during my c-section surgery my blood pressure never wavered a tick. If they gave band members pedometers and heart monitors during practices I think people would be surprised at exactly how physical the activity is.

trinity 11 years, 10 months ago

right on, justathought...i totally agree! when mine were young'uns, we did basically the same things; i had awesome neighbors, and every darn evening after supper we'd all sort of congregate&do SOMETHING pretty active-although i took a pass when the neighbor dad would take all the kidlets on wild rollerblade treks, lol...but whenever we'd play wiffleball, softball, chase each other with water balloons, or whatevs-i was there! ;) and yep i'd make a fairly balanced meal, including a dessert! my kids were/are all healthy, and definitely not obese; we happen to be a bigger family, not rail thin but certainly not unhealthily overweight. AND-barely had a pot to pee in, money-wise, at the time. i think it's all in what parents are willing to devote to raisin' the little ones, and how active a role they take in that raising. and yes i worked full time. not alot of "me" time, back then, for many years; but i got that, now, and am young enough to ENJOY it, heheheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

theDudeAbides 11 years, 10 months ago

How 'bout giving them another chocolate bar?

Fatty fat kids.

audvisartist 11 years, 10 months ago

Dazie: Marching band provides one of the best workouts anybody could ever think of! I used to march around with a 30 pound bass drum and we'd practice 2-3 hours every night. Now that was some sweating! DCI (Drum Corps International) did a study one time on drummers marching and they were blown away by how many calories are burned during a 5-10 minute marching production.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 10 months ago

Dazie, only 5 lbs? sure...rub it in! Thanks for the info, though. Now I'm glad she's in band 'cause I've seen kids sitting on benches at the park during their gym class while I'm still trying to walk off that extra 10 lbs of baby weight from, oh, about 10 years ago. LOL!

Anon, some kids (albiet the minority) do have medical conditions that cause them to be heavier.

Bad_Brad 11 years, 10 months ago

I ate a lot of junk food as a kid, too - probably not as much as many kids today, but still quite a bit. I drank sodas, ate twinkies, potato chips, and french fries, and was practically a sugar addict. But I was always thin, and most of my friends were too.

The difference? Back then, we were outside constantly, running around, exercising! We had recess three times per day (morning, right after lunch, mid-afternoon), and we also had gym class at least every other day. After school, we would usually ride bikes, play hoops, run around in the woods, etc. We were outside until dinnertime, and when it was warm enough and still light outside, we were outside after dinner.

Today, kids have less recess, typically no gym class, and after school, for many, it's countless hours in front of the Internet or the XBox or (worse) the TV. THAT'S the problem.

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

Why shouldn't the government be involved?

Doesn't obesity cost the government, either directly by having to pay out more in Medicaid or Medicare treatments and disabilities or indirectly by having to increase the size of students' desks or making lunchroom chairs stronger? They have every right to act to decrease that cost to themselves.

The question is really what's effective, not whether or not it's government's business to address something that may eventually cost them money. Regulating access to unhealthy foods while the kids are in school doesn't really help if the kids go home and eat a box of Twinkies, but it can help discourage kids whose parents are conscientious about health from sneaking junk food on the sly. Removing junk food from schools (but not banning it from treats brought in by parents, because dammit, treats are supposed to be treats!) makes sense as a declaration of, "We're not going to enable your unhealthy habits."

Increasing PE and recess time is going to run up against problems because too many people still consider PE and recess as 'wasted' time. However, awareness of the importance of both exercise and creative play as facets of child development needs to be increased, because even just a half-hour recess is critical. In elementary school, we only had a half hour for lunch, but we had a fifteen-minute 'break' each morning and afternoon that really helped burn off energy that would otherwise have been used in fidgeting and ADD.

We had nutrition units in school every year until the sixth or seventh grade in my elementary school, but it seems like those have kind of gone by the wayside or just teach 'this is the food pyramid' without talking about ways to snack healthily or portion control.

If the government really wants to get involved and make change, then let them change the food they supply to people. It seems to be all high fat, high sodium, high sugar, and low fiber, it seems. A recent perusal of the dairy case shows that whole milk and high-fat cheese were signed as WIC-approved, but not lowfat yogurt or lowfat cottage cheese. If they're approved, they should be signed. If they're not approved, they should be.

School lunches could be greatly improved, too. They are required to have over five hundred and some calories, and they're not supposed to have more than thirty percent of those calories from fat. But a recent NYT article suggested that the 'thirty percent' guideline was mostly ignored, and efforts to improve the quality of school lunches by incorporating fresher foods and smaller portions ran afoul of the caloric minimums and had to have fat or sugars added to make up the required calories.

Kontum1972 11 years, 10 months ago

pass that four layer of meat whopper with extra-cheese please and i will have a BIG diet coke or diet pepsi to neutralize its effect on my system......Slurpppppppppppp.....Zapppppp!.....Burppppppppppppppppppppp!

guppypunkhead 11 years, 10 months ago

If they'd asked me this question, I would have said

"Fat? So!?"

Irene 11 years, 10 months ago


"No Child Left Behind" . . . sounds like the motto on a sinking ship

That is about the best summation of the program I've seen.

Closer to the subject at hand: the restaurant portions mentioned earlier--if portions are decreased, do you think the prices will decrease with them? Hah! I'll continue the doggy bag practice. It's nice to have something for lunch from a good dinner the night before.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 10 months ago

I think Brad's got it right. Yeah, I ate all those things when I was a kid, too. Though since we were poor, we didn't get them as often as some kids do now. Although since we were poor, we also ate a lot of potatoes, pasta, gravy at meals. And I was thin as a rail. But after school, we were always outside doing something, running, jumping, playing ball, riding bikes. My favorite was jumping rope, something I don't see many kids even doing anymore. Hula hoops, playing tag, hide and go seek, red light - green light, king of the mountain...the list was endless.

We played outside every day after school, weather permitting, and during the summer we were out all day except for meals, and even after supper when it stayed light long enough. We had to go inside when it got dark.

Of course, back then we didn't have video games, or VCRs or DVDs. We had TV, sometimes, but this was mainly before cable, so we got three whole channels by antenna. Even after cable came around, we couldn't afford it. On a good weather day, sometimes we got FOUR channels. But TV back then was kind of boring for kids, except for the few cartoons you found on Sat. mornings.

When I was a teenager, my sister and I used to take walks around town every evening. Not because we had to, but because we thought it was fun. It was okay with our mother, and it was a chance to talk about life and our "loves", without anyone else listening. Thinking back on the route we took, I calculate now that it was approximately two miles. Every day.

Of course, we didn't have a car, so we walked to school every day, and walked everywhere else we went in town. Even the grocery store, and it was a chore walking back home those five blocks with two or three bags full of heavy stuff. Each one of us had to carry two or three bags on a heavy grocery shopping day.

Just walking can be quite effective for weight reduction, if only people would do it now. But they think they have to hop in the car everywhere they go, even if their destination is only three or four blocks away.

reginafliangie 11 years, 10 months ago

Well, lets not just assume that all overweight kids or adults are that way from lack of excersise or eating. Some people do have illnesses that keep them heavy or have metabolism issues. I know people who have to take steriods for heath problems those blow you up. There are other medical reasons which I won't bore you with. But I just wanted to put out there that eveyone is not about being lazy and eating poorly. My kids are the picture of health and being very physically fit and I STILL get the speeches from doctors. So with all that harping they are going to make my kids paranoid and bulimic. I know how to raise my kids.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 10 months ago

Every night go for a 1 mile family walk or a 3 mile bike ride. Fruits can substitute for sweets. Some children perhaps should eat a little less or simply cut out junk food. Normally active growing children can put away the chow yet do not become obese. Activity is the key.

clayars 11 years, 10 months ago

First, should the government do anything? Consider this, one of the most basic duties of government is "provide for the common defense". Are you aware that 54% of the military is overweight and getting more so everyday? That if there were a military crisis today requiring a draft, we would have to lower the fitness requirements and extend basic training to have enough troops? Just how are the "tubby troops" planning to shock and awe the world? Osama and the Boys are sitting in the cave buying McDonald's stock.

Second, should schools do anything? Kids spend up to 8 hours a day in school and some consume over half of their daily calories there. Even if the home environment is less than perfect, parents have a right to expect that their kids are in a healthy environment when they are required by law to be in school. Schools should be a haven and an example for kids, not another opportunity to promote a diseased lifestyle. And study after study shows that when schools create healthy environments, the kids become change agents to the parents. I say, "No Child Left on His Behind".

Third, what about parents? They are no different from any of the rest of us who have lost the ability to actually know what "fat" is. If you don't believe this, try catching an old re-run of Bonanza. When I was growing up, Hoss was FAT. Now, it's hard to distinguish him from most of the men you see. That's because 65% of us are overweight/obese. This IS normal now. Unfortunately. So, having information about their child's BMI is important for parents whether that comes from their doctor or the school nurse. Parents need to be educated as much as the rest of us and more so because they have the responsibility for children who are not able to make good decisions for themselves. That's why they have parents and other caring adults like their teachers.

And finally, why should we care? Frankly because it is going to cost ALL of us if we don't get this epidemic under control. Of course if your idea of retirement is driving a Hoveround while shooting up insulin and popping Zocor, well maybe the government SHOULD just butt out.

dacs23 11 years, 10 months ago

As for the notion of not being able to afford healthy food or have time to fix it. If you can't afford kids and don't have time to raise them perhaps you should not have had them. I say take all fat kids into state custody and charge the parents with medical neglect.

Ceallach 11 years, 10 months ago

The schools serve them sugar, salt and carbs, then reduce the physical education classes to the point of being a joke, then think it would be good for the government to help them help the children. Pleeeeez!!

1 return PE classes to their previous glory (they worked our buns off -- literally!), try that a while and see if that isn't a step in the right direction. However, with today's child-worship mania in this country, be prepared to have mothers and fathers constantly harping about how special their evil little spawn is and why they must not be worked so hard!!

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 10 months ago

...and then we all turn off our computers, go eat a gallon of ice cream and do nothing to change things...

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

dacs23, shut up as you know NOT what you talk about. Prices go up, expenses go up, and sometimes you can't always afford the freshest. So then you have to pick canned, and try to avoid all the sugar. Even stay at home moms may restort to microwave and convenient meals as they taxi kids from one place to the next. Kids have to eat something. And mine are the pickiest. And has been pointed out - some overweight kids have other medical conditions, such as my nephew, and it is not his parents' fault.
You can't jump to conclusions when you see an overweight kid and/or overweight parents.

allateup 11 years, 10 months ago

Our school took away a recess, bankboy

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

We had PE classes 2-3 times a week in grade school, recess 2-3 times a day and PE every day for a semester in junior high and high school. I think the elementary schools in town have PE 2-3 times per week, but it alternates with art, and music. I don't know about the recesses, but what is the first punishment for a kid usually - take away the recess.

As a parent, I know kids need to be motivated after school to do their homework, chores or go outside to play, instead of watching tv and video games. And it is hard, especially if parents work outside the home. They used to teach about the food pyramid in school, don't know if they still do. Healthier alternatives in school lunches is a start, but they have to taste good for kids to eat them.

dacs23 11 years, 10 months ago


you lose the bet. They put hyper kids on stimulants and the number one side effect is loss of appetite not an increase.

Mom of three. I hear you but I still feel that people who bring kids into the world who are not financially or otherwise able to give them a good health start in life are the most self centered and irresposible people out there. What better are they then a dead beat dad.

southerngirl 11 years, 10 months ago

My son is on concerta for ADD and dacs is right-loss of apetite is the number one side effect...

sunflower_sue 11 years, 10 months ago

He baits the hook, casts the line, cranks the winch...Oh, comes up empty. Better luck next time.

To those that want to know why we don't have a YMCA: I contacted them last year and they said that if there is one w/in 50 miles (I think, I'll have to double check on that # for sure) that chances are slim of getting one in our community because we can just drive to the other one. Lame, huh?

sunflower_sue 11 years, 10 months ago

Sorry for the long post. Looks like some of the criteria has changed in the last year as now the offer a "branch status." :

How to Start a New YMCA in Your Community Are you interested in having a YMCA in your community? We believe any community would be enhanced by the presence of a YMCA. However, through the experience of starting more than 2,594 YMCAs across the United States, we can tell you that some basic guidelines are necessary to ensure the success of developing new YMCAs in new communities:

A large group of influential citizens who are willing to provide volunteer help in organizing a new YMCA is a major and necessary ingredient. A service area of more than 25,000 people within a seven-mile radius is needed to ensure a sufficient base (there are some exceptions to this guideline). If there is a YMCA currently within 50 miles of your community, it is best to work with the existing YMCA to start a "branch" rather than attempt to organize an independent/corporate YMCA (each local corporate YMCA is incorporated by the state as a nonprofit charitable organization with its own volunteer board of directors). A "start-up fund" (sometimes called seed money) of $450,000 to $500,000 needs to be raised to allow YMCA staff to focus on developing programs and services during the first three years rather than spending most of their time fundraising. Three-year pledges for contributions from approximately 50 to 150 households and businesses typically are the funding source. Newly organized YMCAs get their best start by hiring an experienced YMCA senior director who provides the YMCA operating culture. A digest of the Four Tested Steps for starting a new YMCA is:

Orienting an interested group of 25+ citizens to the YMCA Doing feasibility testing studies with the guidance of a YMCA consultant Conducting a community-based Founders Campaign to secure the seed money Hiring an experienced YMCA executive director, organizing a board of directors and starting programs for youth and families A new YMCA typically begins operating programs from donated storefront office space for three to seven years. This provides time and community network building sufficient to start fundraising to build a YMCA facility which usually includes a swimming pool, gymnasium, exercise areas, weight training rooms, gymnastics areas, locker rooms, offices, meeting rooms, etc. If you would like to receive an informational package to help you and other community leaders better understand the above guidelines, please call the YMCA of the USA at 800-872-9622.

southerngirl 11 years, 10 months ago

There are quite a few YMCA's within 50 miles. Topeka has three branches. Olathe has at least one and Kansas City has a gazillion (I used to work for the Y). They were right in their email about starting a branch rather than a facility, it would be easier...

paladin 11 years, 10 months ago

Fatkids aren't going to go to the Y. Get real. Do you want one for them or for you? Maybe that's the crux of the whole problem. Self-centered, self-absorbed, self-serving. All us fatkids got is food; all we can do is eat. Oh, and alcohol and drugs, sex and tattoos, and blue hair. Don't really mean much, though.

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

dacs, what about those who have money when they bring kids in the world, and then the situation changes on down the road - that's not irresponsible, it's a possible fact of life. How many people do great until they are laid off one day without notice? Happens all the time.
If everyone waited until they were sure they were financially stable FOREVER to have kids, the only ones with kids would be millionaires.
With gas prices on the rise, one of these days, the only ones who will be able to afford fresh fruit and veggies, will be the rich.

ladywriter 11 years, 10 months ago

state officials, nothing they can do, they dont raise other people's children. Its called "dont take them to mcdonalds and let them get what they want 4 nights a week!" AND make them go outside like we did as kids, playing softball, riding bikes, making up dance routines. Kids are way to dependant on TV and i say its the parents problem mainly. the sad thing is on the other side of it, both parent arent there now a days so there isnt the structure there once was.

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