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Alissa Widman Neese • Oct 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Quinisha Burchett,12, isn’t ashamed to admit she’s a little out of shape.


But when a popular after-school program’s staff urged Quinisha to test her limits, the Sandusky Middle School seventh-grader was more than ready for the challenge.

She conquered a series of long jumps, sprints, squats and toe touches this past week and even had some energy to spare.

“It was really fun,” Quinisha said. “It was hard work, but they motivated us and kept us going.”

The Nehemiah Center kicked off its free Club 180 after-school program this past week, an annual program aiming to provide a safe, wholesome and exciting learning environment for local children.    

The program operates Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and started in 2010. It’s housed at the old Campbell Elementary School building.

This year, Club 180 will provide an hour of physical fitness and nutrition training to its students through a new grant-funded partnership with Firelands Regional Medical Center staff.

During the after-school wellness program, students will learn about the effects of healthy and unhealthy foods. They will also participate in various activities, including yoga, basketball, jump rope, tennis and a “fun run” at the end of the school year.

“Our focus is empowering the kids to make healthy decisions on their own, without a grown-up telling them they should do it,” said Angela Brickner, a Firelands Regional Medical Center population health nurse who coordinates the program.

Club 180 will still offer its classic activities, including homework help, dinner, games, music, arts and crafts, computer time and educational field trips.

Some may not recognize the inside of its venue, however, which received a fresh coat of paint and some other physical improvements this summer, said Tondra Frisby, the club’s director.

Despite the year-to-year changes, the Nehemiah Center’s message remains constant.

“I love coming to the center because they teach us morals and things to help us get through life and have a great future,” Quinisha said. “It’s positive and uplifting.”

That’s the overall goal, said Larrick Zirkle, the center’s new executive director.

“We really want to create a new culture within our community that brings people together to not just accept each other and work together, but to also serve each other,” Zirkle said. “A great place to start doing that is with these kids, with a long-term commitment to impact the community at large.”

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