Marcia Gay Harden Joins YMCA To Help Parents Build Strong Kids, Healthy Families

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 General News
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- Oscar(R) and Tony(R) Winner Brings YMCA's Messages Home -

NEW YORK, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Fast food. Online gaming. Unlimited channels. High fructose corn syrup. There are countless

scapegoats for the unprecedented childhood obesity epidemic affecting the country. But research shows that, despite all indications to the contrary, parents are still the primary influence in their kids' lives. The YMCA of Greater New York aims to remind moms and dads of that with its new public information campaign, launching this week on a number of broadcast television and radio outlets here in New York City.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click

"Our goal for this campaign is to make a positive impact in our community's health, one family at a time," said Jack Lund, president & CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. "By broadcasting these simple messages and making this robust tool available to anyone who wants it, we hope to be able to share with more New Yorkers than ever our decades of experience in building strong kids and families."

The YMCA enlisted the help of Academy Award® and Tony Award® winner Marcia Gay Harden to bring the message home that small changes in the family setting -- regular physical activity; eating meals together as a family; and a daily, one-on-one check-in with each child -- can significantly improve a child's physical health and foster a stronger emotional bond between parent and child. Harden, a member of the YMCA's board of directors and winner of the organization's 2006 Volunteer of the Year Award, notes that despite other influences, parents lead by example when it comes to their kids' eating habits and physical activity.

"As a mom, I believe that these simple messages are absolutely true: the health of a family is based on the behavior of a family," said Harden. "Prevention of childhood obesity starts at home, and so the solution must come from within the family itself. While every family is challenged to eat healthy, get enough physical activity and find time to spend together, these public service announcements also serve as a reminder that there is support available to help parents meet these challenges."

The public service announcements feature the personal reflections of real kids on different aspects of family health, followed by Harden's simple message of encouragement, from one parent to another. Viewers are directed to a website -- -- that features a free download of the YMCA's "Healthy Family Home Starter Kit," which provides practical advice and easy-to-implement activities for the whole family to get involved in creating the positive and enriching environment that a healthy family requires.

The campaign was created by award-winning children's television producers Little Airplane Productions in their studios in Manhattan's South Street Seaport. More than 40 kids ages 3-9 were individually interviewed on the subjects of family meals, being active as a family, their parents as role models and how they know their parents care for them. Little Airplane also donated its time, facilities and other soft costs for the preproduction process and the interviews themselves.

"When it comes to children sharing their opinions, nothing beats unscripted and spontaneous comments. There's something very natural and truthful about how young kids talk," said Josh Selig, founder and principal of Little Airplane Productions. "We believe these spots will inspire viewers to help each other live healthier lives. We're proud to partner with the Y on such a meaningful project."

As the campaign's sponsor, Deloitte LLP is underwriting much of the YMCA's expenses related to creating and launching the campaign. Deloitte is a longtime supporter of the YMCA, including its annual Strong Kids Campaign and Black Achievers in Industry mentoring program. Barry Salzberg, chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP, is past chair of the YMCA's board of directors and was honored by the YMCA in 2008 with its Dodge Award for altruistic humanitarian service.

"When it comes to kids, the YMCA is synonymous with hope. The Y provides the infrastructure and the community where they can learn, grow and become leaders," Salzberg said. "This campaign was designed to help kids grow stronger and healthier in their original support system -- their family."

The campaign launches as a regionwide partnership of the more than 35 independent YMCA Associations in New York City, Long Island and downstate New York; Fairfield County, Conn.; and throughout New Jersey. Local television partners include WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, WNYW-TV and WABC-TV. Radio partners include WLTW-FM, WINS-AM, WCBS-FM, WPAT-FM, WBLS-FM, WKTU-FM and WQEW-FM. Working Media Group partnered with the YMCA of Greater New York to design, negotiate and execute the media campaign across TV, radio and online, and contributed its time and expertise pro bono.

About the YMCA of Greater New York

Committed to helping New Yorkers grow strong and healthy since 1852, the YMCA of Greater New York is the largest private youth-serving organization in New York City, encompassing 20 branches and 180 program sites throughout the five boroughs, plus three camps upstate. All told, the YMCA impacts the lives of more than 350,000 New Yorkers of all ages each year, including 175,000 children in a variety of educational, social, health and wellness, as well as recreational and child development programs, each of which reinforce the YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Supported in part through contributions to the Strong Kids Campaign, the YMCA provides membership assistance and scholarships, so that no one is turned away due to an inability to pay. Visit to learn more.

About Marcia Gay Harden

Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden has forged a remarkable body of work, always staying true to her chameleon style of "becoming the character." Her character portraits have been described by critics as "searing", "heartbreaking", "inventive", "pure and profane simultaneously", "astonishing", "authentic", and "sensuous". From the glamorous Ava Gardner in Sinatra, to the artist Lee Krasner in Pollock (for which she won Best Supporting Actress Oscar®), to the down and out Cecelia in Mystic River (another Academy Award® nomination), Marcia has created a signature style based in character transformation. Marcia has chosen a life away from mainstream Hollywood, crossing between independent and studio films, and television and theatre. She recently garnered a Best Actress Tony Award® for her starring role in the Tony Award®-winning Broadway play God of Carnage. She was recently nominated for an Emmy Award® for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. Other nominations include a Tony® nomination for Tony Kushner's Angels in America and an Emmy® nomination for her guest appearance on Law and Order: SVU.

About Little Airplane Productions

Founded by Josh Selig in 1999, Little Airplane Productions created and produced "The Wonder Pets!" for Nick Jr. (winner of the 2009 Japan Prize), "Go, Baby!" for Playhouse Disney, "Oobi!" for NOGGIN and "3rd & Bird!" for the BBC's CBeebies. Additionally, Josh Selig was the Head Writer for "Little Bill" on Nick Jr. He has received ten Emmy Awards for his writing on "Sesame Street" and was the Resident Producer of the historic Israeli/Palestinian "Sesame Street" co-production. Selig also writes a weekly blog for KidScreen Magazine called "Planet Preschool" which can be read at For more information about Little Airplane Productions please visit

About Deloitte

"Deloitte" is the brand under which approximately 169,000 dedicated professionals in independent firms throughout the world collaborate to provide audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services to selected clients. As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

About Working Media Group

Honored in 2009 by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation's 500 fastest growing firms, Working Media Group helps hundreds of mid-size firms achieve their goals, maximize the return on their advertising investments, and navigate complex and ever-changing media landscapes. Their professionals design and execute efficient and effective ad campaigns for all clients, regardless of size and across all media -- TV, print, radio, online, outdoor and mobile. Visit them at

Related Links:

YMCA's site with free resources for parents and links to YMCAs throughout the tri-state region.

First Lady Michelle Obama takes lead with YMCA to fight childhood obesity.

Award-winning children's television producer Little Airplane created the campaign with the YMCA

A model of true corporate responsibility, Deloitte LLP is a proud sponsor of the YMCA's campaign.

SOURCE YMCA of Greater New York


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