The Independent Health Foundation has teamed up with the Buffalo Bills to produce a series of promotional videos to raise awareness about its Fitness for Kids Challenge, an elementary school-based program that was designed to combat the rising rates of childhood obesity. More than 150,000 students from 300 schools throughout Western New York have participated in the Challenge since it was first launched in 2008.
In the videos, current Bills players Eric Wood, Aaron Williams, and Corey Graham interact with children to help promote the importance of the Challenge's "5-2-1-0" daily goals:
- 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables
- 2 hours or less of screen time (i.e., television, computer and video games)
- 1 hour or more of physical activity
- 0 sugary drinks such as soda and sports drinks
This week's video asks kids to watch two hours or less of screen time and is currently featured on the Fitness for Kids Challenge site at www.fitnessforkidschallenge.com. A new video will be posted to the Fitness for Kids Challenge site each week for the next two weeks.
"We are proud to be working with the Bills to help teach children that staying active and making healthy food choices is not only important, but can also be fun and easy," said Carrie Meyer, executive director, Independent Health Foundation. "In recent years, obesity has emerged as the No. 1 health problem facing our youth. Children who are obese are more likely to be at risk for health problems as they get older, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. That's why we must continue to offer programs like the Fitness for Kids Challenge, so that we can instill proper nutrition and exercise habits in children at an early age."
Almost 10,000 students are expected to participate in this year's Fitness for Kids Challenge, which will run from October 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016. As part of the initiative, students in grades 2 through 5 will receive monthly challenges from their classroom teacher that are centered on the "5-2-1-0" daily goals. For instance, students will need to work with their teachers to implement a healthy policy/change in their classroom or school, such as:
- Replacing unhealthy snacks in school vending machines with healthy ones.
- Planning a "Vegetable/Fruit of the Month Club" that will allow students to try a seasonal or exotic fruit/vegetable each month.
- Bringing in healthy birthday treats instead of baked goods.
- Decorating the cafeteria and gym with nutrition and exercise tips.
- Creating a morning or afternoon walking club for students and faculty.
All of the materials needed to implement the different challenges, including handouts, stickers, newsletters and activities, will be mailed to teachers on a monthly basis. The teachers will then log in to www.fitnessforkidschallenge.com and enter their student's participation at the end of each month.
Students, teachers, classrooms and schools with the highest levels of participation will be eligible to win prizes, including $20,000 in grant money to be used by schools for health and fitness initiatives. Over the past seven years, more than $60,000 has been awarded through the program. In turn, schools have used the money to purchase new physical education equipment, pay for field trips to fitness facilities and build outdoor basketball courts.
Additional information about the 2015-16 Fitness for Kids Challenge site can be found at www.fitnessforkidschallenge.com. The site also includes a special section for parents that includes healthy activities and recipes they can reference and implement at home.
"Parents play an important role in helping to support their kids in living a healthy lifestyle away from school. We encourage parents to keep the momentum going by encouraging their children to adopt exercise, eat and drink right, and limit the amount of time they spend watching television and playing video games," said Meyer. "Whether it's making sure your children eat one fruit with their breakfast or building an indoor obstacle course from household items as a way to stay active when the weather's bad, there are many simple and easy things parents can do to achieve the 5-2-1-0 goals."
About the Independent Health Foundation
Established in 1992, the Independent Health Foundation works to improve the health and well-being of Western New York residents through awareness, prevention, wellness and education programs focused on community health priorities. In addition to Healthy Options, other Foundation signature programs include Good for the Neighborhood®, Fitness for Kids Challenge, Kids Run, and First Night® Buffalo. For more information on the Foundation's activities, visit www.independenthealth.com/foundation.