ATLANTA -- (April 30, 2013) What do you get when you take 24 excited kids, combine them with 12 eager shelter dogs, and put them in a serene state park setting to walk on nature trails? You get healthier kids! And that’s exactly what LifeLine Animal Project, Georgia’s State Parks and the South DeKalb YMCA are doing through their “Wagging Trails” program. The three groups have teamed up to bring kids from South DeKalb YMCA and dogs from LifeLine Animal Project’s shelter together at Panola Mountain State Park to walk for exercise every Friday for eight weeks beginning May 3rd.

According to the CDC, Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the past 30 years, with more than one third of children and adolescents overweight or obese. Wagging Trails hopes to lower those statistics through their program. 
“Exercise is a key factor in fighting childhood obesity, and walking with dogs is a great way to get it,” says Georgia State Parks Marketing Manager Sally Winchester. “Walking in a natural setting has also been shown to lower stress, so the children will receive many benefits from this program.”
The program will also provide many benefits for the dogs.  “The Wagging Trails Program will provide LifeLine’s dogs with exercise which will help alleviate some of the stress shelter life,” says Deborah Setzer, Director of Community Outreach at LifeLine. “Having kids to walk the dogs is an added bonus for them, since it will help improve their socialization skills which will help them to get adopted,” says.
Georgia’s State Park system encourages visitors to bring their leashed dogs along for healthy walks, and this is their first partnership with both an animal shelter and a children’s program. “Georgia has about 40 state parks with dog-friendly trails, ranging from easy to challenging,” said Becky Kelley, Director of Georgia’s State Parks.  “We know that outdoor recreation is an important part of healthy living, and so we are excited to offer this Wagging Trails partnership.  We can’t wait to see kids and dogs enjoying the trails at Panola Mountain.”
The groups hope to make Wagging Trails an ongoing program that will continue seasonally.

About LifeLine Animal Project
LifeLine Animal Project helps prevent unwanted pet litters through low-cost spay/neuter, helps make pet care affordable through low-cost and free vaccine clinics, saves the lives of special needs shelter animals through our rehabilitation facility, and saves feral cats through our trap-neuter-return program.  As the managing organization for Fulton County Animal Services, LifeLine is making Atlanta a lifesaving community. For more information on LifeLine Animal Project, please visit

About Georgia’s State Parks

Georgia’s 63 State Parks and Historic Sites are operated by the Department of Natural Resources, providing outdoor recreation while protecting Georgia’s natural beauty and historic integrity.  Guests can enjoy hiking, fishing, biking, geocaching, paddling, golf and numerous other outdoor activities.  Overnight accommodations include cottages, campsites, yurts, lodges and group facilities.  Learn more at or by calling 1-800-864-7275.  Follow Georgia State Parks on Facebook andTwitter for news, tips and discounts.
About South Dekalb YMCA
The YMCA, reflecting its Judeo-Christian heritage, is an association of volunteers, members and staff open to and serving all, providing programs and services which develop spirit, mind and body.  Financial assistance is available based on need. The YMCA actively seeks to identify and involve those in need.