SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Children have added incentive this summer to participate in recreational programs at either of the Springfield YMCA’s two branches.
Through an initiative called “Project Get Fit!,” youngsters ages five to 18 can earn “Healthy Bucks” for completing various Y activities and use the “cash” to buy fresh produce at the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market on the State Fairgrounds.
A generous grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois is funding the program, whose goal is to educate children about the importance of incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into their diets and encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“Healthcare begins with wellness and prevention,” Mike Mannion, a Springfield resident and vice president of government relations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, said. “Project Get Fit!” is a great way to introduce more children to making a healthy diet a lifelong habit.”
“We want kids to come to the market and try produce that they have never tried before,” Market Manager Kristi Jones added. “Our hope is that this small step will help to promote good decisions when selecting snacks and meals.”
The Springfield YMCA has developed incentive guidelines for the awarding of “Healthy Bucks,” which can be redeemed through the end of the 2013 market season. For more information, visit the Y’s website at www.springfieldymca.org.
“The YMCA is very excited to be involved in Project Get Fit,” Angie Sowle, chief executive officer of the Springfield YMCA, said. “At the Y, we focus on youth development and healthy living, and this collaboration is a great way to encourage both the kids and families in this community. Healthy Bucks and lots of fun will be at the Y this summer in all our camps and programs.”
The Illinois Products Farmers’ Market will be held on the State Fairgrounds every Thursday evening through Oct. 17, except on July 4 and during the Illinois State Fair. The market will not be open either Thursday of the fair (Aug. 8 and Aug. 18). The July 4 market, however, will be held Wednesday, July 3.
The market is located in the Commodities Pavilion across from the Grandstand. Hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. In addition to “Healthy Bucks,” it accepts Senior and WIC farmers’ market coupons as well as LINK cards issued through the federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program.
For a list of vendors and their products, scheduled entertainment, participating wineries and the Springfield Clinic “Recipe of the Week,” go online to www.illinoisproductmarket.com.