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Date: Jan 2, 2018

By Michael Schneider, Baltimore County Recreation & Parks

The place was rocking. Eight year olds and teenagers working out together, cheers of encouragement, lots of smiles and so much fun. No one seemed to notice they also were getting fit at their local PAL Center.

It all started at the initiative of Richard Amaya, PAL Leader at the Winfield PAL Center. Richard approached the staff of YouFit Health Club in a nearby Randallstown shopping center. Would they be interested in sharing their fitness programming with the members of the Winfield PAL? 

“We didn’t hesitate to respond with a huge yes,” said Marjorie Macon, YouFit’s Coordinator of Instructors, and Lillian Bracey, Marketing Coordinator. It seems this is just the opportunity YouFit wanted – to reach out and get actively involved with our Randallstown community.” 

The word “active” best describes the program. About 25 PAL members eagerly wait their turn on a long rope ladder spread across the floor of the PAL gym, kids running through each space with carefully choreographed steps. Picture football player fitness training and you get the idea. Then there was the giant rope, ten reps, making it ripple across the room, followed by jump roping to get some aerobics in.  The place was electric with kids, PAL staff and YouFit staff.

The partnership of community business and the Baltimore County PAL Center started in the fall and hasn’t missed a week since. The YouFit staff held a fundraiser and provided several PAL families with holiday dinners. Their goal is to be able to reach out to other programs and schools to provide similar programs throughout their community. 

How do the PAL members like the program? Ten year old Sa’ryah, a two-year member of Winfield PAL, shares that she loves the YouFit program.  She especially likes the ladder because it makes her move her feet rapidly. “I’m a dancer, and the ladder makes me a better dancer,” she proudly exclaims. 

Melakhi, another ten year old, shared his thumbs up for the ladder as well.  “It makes me stronger,” smiles Melakhi.  He notes that the YouFit program also talks up proper nutrition.  Soda and chips?  “Nope,” explains Melakhi. “Do you eat chicken?” “Yes,” he quickly responded. “But not fried chicken.”

The message was clear from everyone in the gym -- YouFit and PAL are a match that works.

Nine Police Athletic League (PAL) Centers throughout Baltimore County are run by the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks with the active participation of the Baltimore County Police Department. The centers help meet the needs of at-risk youth with after-school and summer programs that include athletics and fitness, arts, homework time and social opportunities. Participants in this free program are ages 8-17.



Revised September 11, 2017