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For Immediate Release

For more information, contact:
Gloria O'Connell, 612-863-4801


Allina partners with YMCA to prevent childhood obesity

MINNEAPOLIS 08/31/2009--Participation is growing in a fast-paced program that teaches five- to 12-year-olds about nutrition and exercise. The YMCA selected Power by the Hour and has incorporated the program into 40 YMCA Summer Power youth program sites this summer throughout the Twin Cities.

Three children, a boy and two girls, run as they play a Power by the Hour game in their school gym.">

Kids had healthy fun in YMCA Summer Power sessions at Valentine Hills Elementary School in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Summer Power is based on Power by the Hour, a program developed by Allina Hospitals & Clinics.

Power by the Hour was developed by Allina Hospitals & Clinics and the Anoka-Hennepin School District. This past school year, the number of participating sites reached 40, up from one school in 2005.

"It's an amazing program that shows kids the benefits of nutrition and exercise, and they can keep at it the rest of their lives," said Josh Hebzynski, a YMCA Youth Program site coordinator.

At a recent YMCA session lead by Hebzynski at Valentine Hills Elementary School in Arden Hills, kids participated in a fun game where a group, called the taggers, selected the fruit group and were chasing the other kids as "strawberries," "watermelon" and "grapes" were called out. Those captured, or tagged, performed jumping jacks.

"I did 45 jumping jacks, and that's why I'm sweating right now," said Annie Ashman, 5, of Shoreview. "I like to tag ice cream." With all the running, squealing and laughing, the kids seemed oblivious that they were exercising. But the older ones knew the game would boost the mileage on their pedometers, a key element of the program to keep track of their progress.

Tanner Olsen and Miguel Diaz-Ornelas, both 8, say they have logged 13,800 and 8,000 steps, respectively, on their pedometers in one day. Vishaal Balamurugan, 9, had recorded more than 101,000 steps since he started keeping track.

"The curriculum is easy to follow. You don't need to be a dietitian to teach it," said Susan Nygaard, RN, PHN, Allina's manager of Community Programs. "The games are fun, and kids like incentives, especially the pedometers."

Allina provides the Power by the Hour curriculum within the Allina service areas free of charge. Interested organizations can contact Nygaard at More information can be found at

More about Allina Hospitals & Clinics

Allina Hospitals & Clinics is a not-for-profit health care system of hospitals, clinics and other patient care services that provides exceptional care to communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin and employs more than 22,000 people.

More about the YMCA

The YMCA is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 social service organization dedicated to building strong kids, strong families and strong communities. The YMCA provides a wide range of "spirit, mind and body"-focused programs and services including health and wellness, programs and services for kids, adults and seniors, day and overnight camps, child care, preschool and school-age care, youth development and leadership programs, and youth, family and community programs and events. The YMCA provides financial assistance and scholarships to ensure that programs and services are available to all.

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