Seventh-grade students in Allen, Whitley and Wells counties are invited to register this month for a free membership to their local YMCA.
Registration for a free membership began this month and will continue through Sept. 30.
Nicole Liddell, YMCA of Greater Fort Waynes director of mission advancement, said the free memberships are designed to get students signed up for and involved with their local YMCA.
Our research showed that seventh grade and those early teen years is really a critical time in a young persons life as they begin to make decisions about risks, Liddell said.
This is the time when our youth really begin to distance themselves from the community.
The early teen years are the time when issues like substance abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy and violence begin to affect students, she said.
We want to promote a positive self-esteem and take a proactive approach, she said.
A parent or legal guardian must give permission for students to participate and provide proof of enrollment in the seventh grade.
The membership is free through the end of August 2014.
Liddell said she encourages students to bring a friend to registration so they can sign up together.
Theres no catch. They dont have to sign up at the end of 12 months or anything like that, Liddell said.
Liddell hopes to see about 500 students obtain a free membership.