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Youth earn fitness camp scholarships in new Michigan Apples contest

Contact: Denise Yockey
(800) 456-2753

(DeWitt, Mich.) – The Michigan Apple Committee has announced the winners of its Get Fit With Michigan Apples Essay Contest, which awards scholarships to an acclaimed fitness and weight loss program for youth known as Wellspring Camps. 

Some essay entries discussed depression and the feelings of sadness that so often plague overweight children. Others focused on the routine teasing and heckling from classmates and even strangers. A common theme was how obesity was taking its toll not only physically, but mentally as well. 

“These essays prove just how devastating obesity can be especially to children and the severe damage it can cause to your body and your self esteem,” said MAC nutrition spokesperson Judy MacNeill. “It was a very difficult decision selecting the winners. They were all touching stories that exemplify just how carrying those extra pounds can really pull you down.” 
The essays are part of the Get Fit With Michigan Apples Essay Contest, co-sponsored with regional parenting magazines and Wellspring Camps. The winners will each receive a free scholarship Wellspring Camps, an acclaimed fitness and weight loss camp designed exclusively for young people. 

Contestants were asked to write an essay on why they most deserve the scholarship and how being overweight has affected their lives. 

A panel of judges recently selected the winners:

  • Kara Schumaker, 17, Clinton Township, Michigan. Kara is 5 feet 4 inches and weighs 230 pounds. Having dealt with obesity most of her life, Kara will graduate from high school this year and looks forward to starting college as a healthier individual.

  • Trevaris Nelson Jr., 15, Chicago, Illinois. Trevaris is 5 feet 8 inches and weighs 350 pounds. He is concerned that he will eventually suffer serious health complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure if he doesn't get control of his weight.Isaiah Harris, 8, Indianapolis, Indiana. 

  • Isaiah is 4 feet 9 inches and weighs 140 pounds. After surgery to repair his fallen arches left him laid up in bed for months, he is ready to make some positive lifestyle changes.Michael Craigmile, 11, Atlanta, Georgia. 

  • Michael is 5 feet and weighs 186 pounds. Tired of being teased, he wants to become someone other than the stereotypical overweight kid played in movies.

With some statistics showing one in three youth are overweight or obese, it is no surprise that this new contest attracted such a response. 

MAC Executive Director Denise Yockey said combining the healthy message of apples with a program to help overweight young people has been extremely rewarding. 

“It's been great to partner with Wellspring and give these kids a program that has some real success behind it,” said Yockey. “We couldn't be happier to knowing that these young people are going to have a wonderful opportunity to really improve the quality of their lives and start down a new, healthier path. We can't wait to hear about their successes.” 

The winners will each attend a one or four-week session at the Wellspring Camp location of their choice, choosing from one of the many sites throughout the nation. Campers are given a comprehensive diet and activity program – tailored specifically to each child – to help ensure weight loss while at camp and afterwards. 

The overweight children are given intensive training on behaviors that promote successful long-term weight control. Campers participate in cognitive-behavioral therapy four times per week with a trained therapist to help overcome emotional barriers such as decisional counseling, positive focusing, relapse prevention, frustration tolerance and stress management training. 

A free family workshop is offered at the conclusion of camp in order to reinforce transition plans from camp to home. Coaches instruct the families on ways to help support the child in their weight loss. An after-care program three months following camp is required. Campers continue self-monitoring online, in communication with their behavioral coach from camp. 

John Gordon, chief marketing officer of Wellspring, said the average camper loses more than 4 pounds per week while at camp and 70 percent maintain or continue weight loss at home. Gordon said the essay winners can expect to make new friends and experience new activities while getting in shape and losing weight. 

“Weight issues go far beyond the actual pounds one carries on his or her body.  For many campers, like our scholarship recipients, the weight weighs down their self-esteem, confidence, and outlook on life,” he said. “We see it every year-campers change their bodies and their lives as they leave Wellspring healthier, happier people. I expect the same effect from our essay winners, who wrote really impassioned pleas for change, a change Wellspring can help them make.” 

To promote the contest, MAC ran advertisements in the parenting magazines: Metro Parent (Detroit), Chicago Parent, Indy's Child and Atlanta Parent. The magazines plan to cover the winners' stories from beginning to end, and even during camp with several feature stories and photographs. 
Michigan Apples are part of a healthy diet. They are an excellent source of fiber, fat-free and contain just 80 calories. Because of that, they have made the unlimited, healthy food list at Wellspring Camp. 

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world. There are 950 family-owned apple orchards in Michigan, covering some 37,500 acres. For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.