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Tufts’ ChildObesity180 initiative announces winners of nationwide innovation contest

ChildObesity180 has announced the two national school program winners of its nationwide innovation contest. The competition was designed to identify and reward the most creative, impactful, and scalable school-based programs and technologies to promote children’s physical activity.

With the encouragement of First Lady Michelle Obama via a video message, the Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), a ChildObesity180 initiative, launched the competition in February 2012 in a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America.

Teachers, schools, and school districts submitted their school-based physical activity programs to the “School Programs” category, while the “Technology Innovation” category invited developers, inventors, and entrepreneurs to demonstrate how existing or emerging technologies could be used to inspire kids to be physically active. A panel of experts representing various fields judged the entries. A complete list of judges is available at www.ActiveSchoolsASAP.org.

The National “School Programs” category winners will receive $100,000 grants to further advance health and wellness programming in their school or district. The National winners were selected from a pool of nine regional “School Programs” category winners, which will receive $25,000 grants. The two “Technology Innovation” Grand Prize winners will receive $50,000 each to fund school-based pilots aimed at advancing their technologies.

“School Programs” Category National Winners of $100,000 each:

  • Corona-Norco Unified School District’s 100 Mile Club, Norco, Calif. –Among the many schools nationwide employing running and walking programs, the 100 Mile Club in Corona-Norco, CA is a true pioneer. Inspired by the 1992 Summer Olympics, special education teacher Kara Lubin had a dream that kids would be motivated to stay fit by the simple goal of “winning the gold medal.” These medals, based on dedication and effort, not speed and fitness, could reward students of all abilities, including Lubin’s special education students. Lubin took action and founded the 100 Mile Club in 1993. Elementary school students are presented with a straightforward challenge, run 100 miles over the course of the school year. Students log miles before school, after school, during recess, and at sanctioned community events. Milestones are rewarded with simple tokens – wristbands, pencils, and medals. A year-end assembly celebrates and recognizes students who have achieved 100 miles, and those still with miles to go. Nearly 20 years later, the 100 Mile Club has stood the test of time, and been adopted by schools in California and across the nation. The program is highly scalable and with Lubin’s help, is now in place in more than 115 schools across eight U.S. states, reaching more than 30,000 students.
  • Red Hawk Elementary’s Red Hawk Movement, Erie, Colo. – Movement and exercise are more than activities at Red Hawk Elementary, they are foundational elements of the school culture. As a new public school in the St. Vrain Valley School District located outside of Denver, Red Hawk built physical activity into the plan from day one. Using a rotating daily “movement calendar,” students gain 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis, in addition to scheduled PE class and recess. These structured routines are taught by the professional PE staff outdoors or in the gym, and can be repeated in the classroom with student leaders taking charge. Strategically placed 20-minute blocks occur once in the morning to increase energy and attentiveness at the start of the day, and once in the afternoon immediately before math and science, the most challenging academic subjects. Favorite activities include the ‘Red Hawk Walk,’ in which students power-walk along designated routes throughout the building, as well as in-class cardio and dance breaks. Each Friday the week ends with “All-School Movement,” when all 460 students, faculty and staff head outside to participate in a coordinated fitness routine set to popular music.

“School Programs” Category Regional Winners of $25,000 each:

  • El Paso Independent School District - El Paso, Texas – Southwest Region
  • Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts - Hilton Head, S.C. – Atlantic Region
  • Meadowview Elementary School - Farmington, Minn. – Midwest Region
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools - Miami, Fla. – Southeast Region
  • Harlem and Washington Heights / Inwood (PS 4, PS 102, PS 128, PS 123, PS 152, PS/IS 180, PS/IS 206, PS/IS 210) - New York, N.Y. – New York/New Jersey Region
  • Natick Public Schools - Natick, Mass. – Northeast Region
  • Overland Elementary School - Los Angeles, Calif. – West Region

“Technology Innovation” Category Grand Prize Winners of $50,000 each:

  • The Walking Classroom – www.thewalkingclassroom.org
  • Sqord – www.sqord.com

Christina Economos, PhD, vice chair and director of ChildObesity180, associate professor at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and a leading researcher in childhood obesity prevention said, “These innovators show how teachers, parents, and technology developers are creatively increasing physical activity in schools. They are leading the way toward a real shift in the nation’s approach to physical activity.”

Working closely with leading researchers and expert staff at Tufts and ChildObesity180, National “School Programs” and “Technology Innovation” winners will participate in pilot studies to expand their programs and technologies to schools of different types, sizes, and geographies across the country.

Peter Dolan, A78, A08P, chair of ChildObesity180, says, “The competition’s winning programs and technologies are models that can help us reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. We are grateful for the support of 13 of America’s leading health plans for this competition. With them as our partners, we are recognizing innovation champions and identifying opportunities to bring solutions to scale."

About ChildObesity180

Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) is an initiative of ChildObesity180, an organization committed to fostering cross-sector collaboration to reverse the trend of childhood obesity within one generation’s time. The ChildObesity180 membership is comprised of national leaders from the public, nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who are using their reach and expertise to drive an integrated national strategy to prevent childhood obesity. The organization is chaired by Peter Dolan, former CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Leading Tufts obesity researcher Dr. Christina Economos serves as vice-chair and director and Dr. Miriam Nelson, a professor at the Friedman School, is the co-director. Founded in 2009, ChildObesity180 is conducted in collaboration with Tufts University. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the JPB Foundation are strategic funders. The Innovation Competition is funded by a consortium of the nation’s leading health plans.