The Utah Youth Service Marathon, the largest youth service initiative in the state's history, launches Saturday with a Kick-Off Youth Rally at the Capitol, in conjunction with Capitol Discovery Day.

Expected attendance is more than 5,000 for this 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. event, which will begin with a Family Fitness Walk around the Capitol elliptical and will include a service project assembling care packages for teens in foster care; free food; and live music by local bands. There will be tours of the Capitol and craft activities for kids of all ages.

All of the day's events are free.

The Kick-Off is just the beginning of a school year of youth service projects, culminating on Global Youth Service Day April 25, 2009.

"The Service Marathon will involve thousands of Utah youth during the entire ... school year planning and leading community-based projects that meet a variety of needs, from homelessness to the environment, from health and fitness to literacy, from special needs to refugees," says Judy Zone, Executive Director of YouthLINC, the Utah-based youth service organization that is the lead partner of this initiative.

Applications for the 26 community-based projects, which will be selected in October, will be available at the Kick-Off and online at

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