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Teens get free access to Chilliwack YMCA

Chilliwack YMCA is one of four locations giving teens free access over the summer in an effort to curb obesity rates.

A failing grade for physical activity amongst teens in Canada was not acceptable for the YMCA.

This summer, from now until August 31, all teens between 13 and 18 will have free access to the facilities at Chilliwack Family YMCA. It's a move to get youth more active.

"We do a lot in our centres that is targeted towards six to 12-year-olds, but we recognize that we need to do more for youth and teens," said Yvonne Comfort, Chilliwack Family YMCA manager.

The YMCA's new Active Teen Summer Pass was inspired following a report that gave Canada's youth a failing grade in physical activity.

The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth gave Canada a D- in physical activity and an F in sedentary behaviours.

Out of 15 countries graded, Canada led the back of the pack.

In the report, it states less than five per cent of youth under age 18 get the recommended 60 minutes of active play a day.

"I think it was surprising to me because I tend to see kids who are more active," said Comfort.

"I knew that we weren't as active as we needed to be, but seeing how bad it was was a shock for me because I tend to see the families and kids that come here, and who are engaged and active."

With the Active Teen Summer Pass, Chilliwack's youth will be able to use – for free – the swimming pool and hot tub; work out in the gym or on the fitness floor; and take classes, including yoga, Cyclefit, pilates, bootcamp, and Zumba.

"Basically anything we offer, they can access," said Comfort.

However, certain restrictions apply.

Teens will have unlimited access on weekends and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. But they will not be given free access during peak, after-work hours used by members.

Parents are required to register their teens.

Youth under 16 will also be required to take a strength-training orientation before entering the fitness floor.

"Our hope is to give teens a safe environment to come and try a variety of activities and try to get active, because we know that if you start healthy lifestyle behaviours young in your life, you're more likely to keep them when you're an adult," said Comfort.

"We really want to make sure we're part of helping people set that lifelong habit."

For more information, contact the YMCA at 604-792-3371.