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Local News

YMCA branches in Joliet area offer initiative to get kids moving

MORRIS – Four-year-old Brooklyn Damato put her stethoscope to her ears and listened for a heartbeat of a stuffed Elmo doll being used by Morris Hospital Trauma Coordinator Kathy Geiger as a tool to educate kids about nurses and doctors in the emergency room.

“I am here to teach the kids injury prevention, and want them to feel comfortable around a doctor or a nurse, because by the time they get to the emergency room, they have already experienced trauma,” Geiger said.

As a part of a national YMCA initiative, multiple YMCA locations under the Greater Joliet Area YMCA – C.W. Avery in Plainfield, Galowich in Joliet and Morris Community – held their annual “Healthy Kids Day” on Saturday.

Carolyn Hamilton, vice president of Marketing for the Greater Joliet Area YMCA, said the main motive of the event was to show kids ways to stay active and healthy during the summer months.

“These events are a great way to have a lot of people in one place to offer local resources to parents and kids about summer programs at the YMCA in their communities,” Hamilton said.

Morris Community YMCA member Carli Damato said she came to the event because she likes to learn about new things in Morris.

“This was great for the community because everybody needs to know what’s available to them. I came to get information on Girl Scouts for my daughter because I want her to be in scouts like I was as a child,” Damato said.

Hamilton said that each branch event was unique because of the different community services and the staff at each YMCA. Each class and service are tailored to fit the needs of those using the facility.

C.W. Avery Youth and Family Manager Shannon Stawikowski said that along with vendors, the instructors led a family Zumba class, the competitive dance team named THRIVE performed, and a vendor demonstrated a workout not yet available at the YMCA.

“An instructor interested in coming to the YMCA led a Bollywood Fitness show. We wanted to see the public interest in this type of class before we made decisions,” Stawikowski said.

Galowich Family YMCA had more than 30 vendors, along with family aerobic classes and the Joliet Junior College girls soccer and basketball teams had kids perform drills. The location also welcomed a visit from Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk.

“The aerobic class was so cute. Adults and children came out and did aerobics and then they used paper plates for exercises,” Galowich Family YMCA Youth and Family Director Marlene Kirsch said.

Morris Community YMCA was the newest branch to partake in the initiative.

“If we can hit home that nutrition starts at home and address troubled issues of obesity and diabetes then our event was a success,” said Sarah Porzel, family and community engagement director.

Porzel said their day was unique because of their partnership with the Morris Hospital, which ran a teddy bear clinic with stuffed animals and offered healthy fruit pizza snacks.



Visit for more information on the Greater Joliet Area YMCA.

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