The Department of Physical Therapy’s Youth Empowered to Succeed program will now target middle schoolers, thanks to a new three-year, $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program will serve 50 Hispanic sixth- and seventh-graders from Bruce-Guadalupe Community School at the United Community Center on Milwaukee’s South Side.
“We are honored to partner with the United Community Center in offering YES to Hispanic middle school children,” said Dr. Lawrence Pan, YES program director and chair of Marquette’s Department of Physical Therapy. “A main focus of YES will be to promote healthy lifestyles, including regular exercise to address the rapidly rising incidence of obesity in this population.” Using an intensive boot camp-like approach to physical fitness and wellness, the program also addresses academic enrichment and career development.
Marquette first started the YES program in 2006 to work with Hispanic high school students. The shift to a younger population makes sense, Pan says. “The rationale is that high school is too late and the kids are too committed to other extracurriculars to make a lifestyle change at that point,” he explained.
Marquette’s physical therapy students play a key role. “The middle school students at Bruce-Guadalupe Community School will be getting a wonderful opportunity to work with mentors from Marquette University who can demonstrate the success they have achieved through making healthy life choices,” Congresswoman Gwen Moore said when announcing the grant. “The YES Program funds will make it possible for these younger students to have regular contact with goal-driven young adults who are positive role models.”