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Young Professionals set run/walk here

In an effort to promote general fitness and a healthy lifestyle for the community, the Young Professionals of Jamestown group is holding a 5K Run/Walk next month.

The goal of the Sept. 22 event is to help the community become more aware of an obesity epidemic that affects two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children, according to Quincy Backen, YPJ president.

"We want people to be aware of their health and fitness, and we think this event is a great platform to do that," said Backen, who is also a member of the committee planning the run/walk.

Backen said he was inspired to help out with the event after recently taking part in a leg of the Fargo Marathon.

"I'm as guilty as anybody -- sitting behind a desk most of the day and not necessarily living the most active lifestyle. But getting up the motivation to run 6.5 miles (in Fargo) and accomplishing that was something I really enjoyed," he said. "Hopefully with this 5K in Jamestown, we can do something similar and give people a goal to train for and work towards that will help them become more active."

The group hopes this inaugural event is something that will become a mainstay in the Jamestown community, according to Lisa Hicks, communications director for the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce.

"While yes, it's about promoting a healthy lifestyle, it also shows that we have a group of young people in our community helping lead this cause," said Hicks, who also serves as a liaison between YPJ and the chamber. "Hopefully our YPJ members who have coordinated this event can serve as mentors and even role models to those participating."

The 5K Run/Walk begins at 8 a.m. Sept. 22 at Ave Maria Village. It is sponsored by five local businesses including Anytime Fitness, Agri-Cover, Hugo's, First Community Credit Union and the James River Family YMCA.

Preregistration is $20 until Aug. 31 and $25 from Sept. 1 up until the day of the run/walk. Registration forms are available by emailing lisa@jamestown chamber.com or visiting www.jamestownchamber.com.

Hicks said all proceeds of the event go toward future YPJ community programs and projects.

Continued outreach

In addition to the run/walk, YPJ is reaching out to the community through something it is calling "Citizens Need Analysis," according to Polly Pierce, member of YPJ.

Citizens Need Analysis is a questionnaire YPJ is providing to all local employers and for new individuals moving to Jamestown to gauge people's interests in addition to showing them what the area has to offer.

"There are a lot of people coming into Jamestown, but we also see a lot of people leaving Jamestown as well -- especially young people," said Pierce, who is chair of the Citizens Need Analysis committee. "We want to make a lasting impact on the community, and in order to do that, we need to know what people like to do and what people want to see here in Jamestown."

Pierce said she was inspired to spearhead this effort when she moved to Jamestown from Texas.

"Fortunately, I was able to get hooked into the community through work at the church but I know there are people that come into Jamestown who don't necessarily get settled in as easily," she said.

To combat that, Pierce said herself and fellow YPJ members saw a need to reach out to young people in the community who are new and may not be privy to what there is to do in Jamestown.

"We're in the process now of getting it (the questionnaire) out and promoting it, especially through our large employers here in town," Backen said. "We want to attract people to this area, especially young people. But not only that, we want to do what we can to keep them here."

The questionnaire is designed to learn more about the new or prospective member of the Jamestown community. From there, YPJ would use the submitted questionnaire to provide information about Jamestown that would be relevant and interesting.

"We also know how hard it can be sometimes to meet people moving into a new town, so we would ideally match up new members of the community with a guide that has a similar lifestyle and similar interests," Backen said.

Hicks said this is an important effort these days because Jamestown has become a progressive town that is welcoming of new people.

"We have all these things to offer that not everybody really knows about, so with the needs analysis, we can do a better job of pinpointing people's interests and showing them all these great things," she said.

YPJ began as a subcommittee of the Chamber of Commerce last September for professionals 40 years old and younger. It has been active in a few outreach events around town, including June's North Dakota Buffalo Foundation Dinner where members served dinner to dozens of guests at the Jamestown Civic Center.

For more information about YPJ, call Lisa Hicks at 701-252-4830.

Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at bwillhide@jamestownsun.com

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