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At a glance
What: Free YMCA memberships
Who is eligible: Seventh-grade students in Allen, Whitley and Wells counties
Registration deadline: Sept. 30
Expiration date: Valid through August 2014
Participating branches: Central Branch YMCA, Renaissance Pointe YMCA, Jorgensen Family YMCA, Wells County Family YMCA, Parkview Family YMCA, Whitley County Family YMCA
To register: Parent or legal guardian should contact the local YMCA branch or call 422-6488 or email

7th-graders can join YMCA free

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 Wayne’s 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 person’s 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.

“There’s no catch. They don’t 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.