MARQUETTE -For the second consecutive year, students in Ishpeming and Negaunee will receive guidance in living healthy lives and the chance to win a year of college tuition, thanks to a program from Bell Hospital.
More than 30 students from school districts in Ishpeming and Negaunee have joined Strength From Within, a fitness and wellness challenge designed to inspire students in grades six through eight to lead healthy and active lives.
"It was the brainchild of our CEO Rick Ament," said Kristin Wodzinski, rehab and wellness manager at Bell. "The Upper Peninsula is very unhealthy and he wanted to do something with kids this age, in part to help better educate them about lifestyle choices."
Strength from Within program participants, students in Ishpeming and Negaunee, will receive guidance in living healthy lives and the chance to win a year of college tuition, thanks to a program from Bell Hospital.
As part of the program, students keep daily food and exercise journals, strive to meet personal wellness or fitness goals and complete community service activities.
The students meet regularly with lifestyle coaches to help them in the program, which runs from Septemeber to late May.
"The main (goal) is to get them to understand nutrition, portion sizes, healthy eating," Wodzinski said. "It's to get them moving and doing activities and getting them outside and also to get them involved in the community and taking a responsibility."
Each student who is current with their journal and meets their mid-point goals receives a $50 Lake Superior Community Partnership gift certificate. Similarly, students meeting their end goals are rewarded with a $50 certificate and are asked to write an essay.
Of those students, five finalists will be selected and interviewed by a panel of community members. Four will receive $500 gift certificates and one will receive a year of tuition at Northern Michigan University.
The winner is the student the panel determines has gotten the most out of the program.
Participants are also required to attend one monthly gathering, where physical fitness is a focal point. Group activities include obstacle courses and snowshoeing.
"We want them to understand physical fitness is not just lifting weights and running on a treadmill," Wodzinski said.
Alyssa Palomaki, last year's tuition winner, is taking part again this year. Her mother, Michelle Palomaki, said the program's journal-keeping and exercise has become a part of her daughter's routine - and that's a good thing.
"I think it teaches children a lot about good eating habits," she said. "It's not so much your size, not so much your weight. It's just how to be healthy.
Prior to joining the program, she said Alyssa didn't feel accountable for what she ate. Soon after starting a journal, though, her daughter was much more disciplined with regard to healthy choices.
This year's Strength from Within program began in September. New students can still join and though they won't be eligible for the final prizes, they can still meet their goals and receive the mid-point and final rewards. For more information about the Strength From WIthin program, call the Bell Wellness Department at 906-485-2677.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.