Center for Healthy Communities & Research

EmailEmail    |   Bookmark Page Bookmark  |   RSS Feeds RSS  |   Print Page Print  

GYM: Guiding Youth Movement for Sustained,

Healthy Futures


Photos (left to right): youth participants, health advocates and steering committee members pose for a picture during one of the 10 weekly youth physical activity/education sessions; health advocates teach youth about nutrition; youth participants and trainer participate in 5K Deer Run.

Community Partners:

  • Pastor Will Davis - Greater New Birth Church
  • Judy Springer, PhD - Milwaukee Area Technical College

MCW Partners:

  • Jeffrey Morzinski, PhD - Department of Family & Community Medicine
  • Melissa DeNomie, MS - Department of Family & Community Medicine


Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program Cycle 5 (Funding period: July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010)

Project Overview:

The purpose of this project is to develop and pilot a framework for increasing and sustaining youth physical activity and health career choices within a faith community in inner-city Milwaukee. This innovative project:

  • Trains health advocates to lead physical activity and nutrition programs for at-risk youth
  • Develops organizational structures within the church community to promote health sustaining activity and career choices


Health Advocate Training

Eight adults (2 men, 6 women) from GNB Church joined the GYM team as Health Advocates. They participated in training, taught and mentored youth participants. Health Advocates attended a 6-week training. Topics included: GYM program introduction and overview, spirituality and health, human subjects protection (IRB issues), program challenges/program sustainability, importance of physical activity and nutrition and fitness in hi-risk settings.

Evaluation included a program-end retrospective pre-post- survey to determine the effectiveness of the program at meeting nine identified objectives.

Youth Physical Activity Program

The GYM Youth program enrolled 24 students to participate in ten weekly sessions, each including physical activity and educational components. Youth received support, training and instruction from a cadre of skilled adults: physical trainers, GYM steering committee members, the GYM Health Advocates and MATC students pursuing education in various health careers.

Evaluation included weekly session evaluations, a retrospective pre-post -survey and regular completion of a perceived exertion scale to determine participants' tolerance for physical activity.


This pilot study indicates preliminary highly promising outcomes on physical activity and nutrition for youth in a medically underserved urban Milwaukee community. Outcomes were supported by strong pastoral leadership and health advocates who strengthened skills to positively influence health.  Innovative measurement tools show promise for future activity-based applications.  Most importantly a promising and potentially powerful health partnership was initiated.

Program Highlights:

  • Youth were invited to participate in the 5K Deer Run following the completion of the 10-week youth physical activity/education program.
  • Youth volunteered at the Greater New Birth Church annual blood drive to learn more about health careers.
  • MATC students regularly attended youth physical activity/education sessions to teach students about health career fields of study.

Additional information about the GYM Project:


Photos (left to right): youth participant reports back to full group about his experience helping at the Greater New Birth Church annual blood drive; youth participant participates in the Deer Run 5k run; youth participants volunteer at Graeter New Birth Church annual blood drive.


For more information about this project, contact Melissa DeNomie at or at 414-456-8867.
© 2015 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 06/09/2014