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New contest will award fitness camp scholarship to deserving youth

Contact: Denise Yockey
(800) 456-2753

(DeWitt, Mich.) – Greater Detroit area children struggling to lose weight have the opportunity to win a free stay at a fitness camp through a new contest developed by the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC), in cooperation with Metro Parent magazine and Wellspring Camps.

The “Get Fit With Michigan Apples Essay Contest” is part of a new health and fitness marketing plan developed by MAC. The contest will award four scholarships to a Wellspring Camp, regarded as one of the most successful fitness camps for young people in the nation.

“I commend the Michigan Apple Committee in its efforts to promote healthier lifestyles for our children,” said Judy MacNeill, registered dietitian and nutrition spokesperson for MAC. “Lack of exercise and poor nutrition choices can lead to weight gain in our young people. We need to join forces to address this problem.”

Essays should describe why the young person between 5 and 24 would most benefit from a four-week fitness camp session. Judges will select one winner from the Detroit area based on completeness of entry, potential to benefit, desire to change lifestyle and financial need.

MacNeill said that overweight children are at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bone and joint problems, and social and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem.

“Although the cause of obesity in children can be genetic, the more likely cause is from not enough physical activity and eating a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables,” she said. “These are all lifestyle decisions that need to be addressed in order to reverse the obesity trend.”

Utilizing creative methods like an essay contest may help to draw more attention to childhood obesity, said MacNeill.

“By offering an opportunity to attend a fitness camp, a few young lives may be positively impacted…and that is a step in the right direction for our children here in Michigan,” she said.

The parenting magazines will publicize the winners and their essays to further link Michigan Apples and progress toward a healthy lifestyle.

To enter, the young person must write his or her own 500- to 1,000-word essay about how he or she has struggled with weight. Entries should include a recent photo, a Proof of Purchase from a bag of Michigan apples, and an entry form which is available at www.MichiganApples.com/Camp.

Essays will be accepted beginning Dec. 15, 2007 through Feb. 22, 2008. Winners are expected to be notified by late March.

The contest is sponsored by MAC, Wellspring and parenting magazines, including Chicago Parent, Metro Parent (Detroit), Indy's Child (Indianapolis) and Atlanta Parent Magazine. Eligible contestants must live within the greater areas of Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Atlanta so that the magazines can cover the winners' stories from beginning through post-camp.

Wellspring has locations in North Carolina, Texas, New York, Wisconsin and California. A special family camp is designed for younger children ages 5 to 14. Winners in this age bracket will attend the session for two weeks accompanied by his or her parent or guardian.

Winners will be responsible for their own travel expenses. Each camp session is valued at $5,900. Campers attending Wellspring have a weekly average weight loss of about 4 pounds.

For more information on the health benefits of apples, see the MAC web site at www.MichiganApples.com.

According to the Michigan Apple Committee, apples are Michigan's most valuable fruit crop, with a value of about $100-million annually to the apple grower. There are 7.5 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 37,000 acres on 950 family-run farms throughout Michigan's Lower Peninsula – making apples the largest fruit crop grown in Michigan.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to market development, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world.