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USDA Announces Winners of the Apps for Healthy Kids Competition
Games and Apps Designed to Promote Nutritious Food Choices and Physical Activity as Part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative
WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2010 –A game that encourages kids to learn healthy eating habits and ski with their digital creature in the living room, another that challenges gamers to stack food without breaking a virtual scale, and an app that pairs physical activity with food choices – like 2600 sit-ups to offset an afternoon candy bar - are among those recognized today in the culmination of the $60,000 Apps for Healthy Kids challenge. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Let's Move! Executive Director Robin Schepper recognized teams from across the nation that answered the call to design games and apps that encourage healthy eating and physical activity.
"The First Lady is leading the charge to end childhood obesity and the Apps for Healthy Kids competition is another example of the innovation and dedication being applied to meet that goal," said Vilsack. "This competition allowed us to harness the combined creativity of game developers, local youth and adults to work collaboratively to produce fun, innovative games and tools that promote healthy lifestyles. Today, we are honored to award the talent of our Nation's innovators while encouraging nutritious food choices and physical activity."
As part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, the competition was designed to inspire software developers, game designers, and students from around the country to create engaging apps that will motivate children to choose healthier food options and become more physically active. In four months, students, hobbyists, developers, and corporations submitted 95 eligible games and apps. More than 40,000 people signed on as supports of the challenge through the website and more than 20,000 votes were cast to select the Popular Choice winner.
Since the competition began in March, 95 submissions were accepted from students, developers, designers, and organizations. In addition to the Popular Choice Award, other winners were selected by a panel of judges that included top industry experts, such as Apple Computer Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, and Mike Gallagher, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association. The judges determined the winners based on five main criteria, including potential to impact the target audience, potential to engage and motivate target audience, and creativity and originality.
"Citizen solvers like those in the teams being honored today are at the heart of the Obama Administration's commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges to solve tough problems," Chopra said. "It is because we know there are countless other Americans like them across the country whose ingenuity might otherwise be overlooked that the Obama Administration's Strategy for American Innovation specifically calls on Federal agencies to use prizes to tap our nation's top talent and best ideas, wherever they may lie."
Earlier this month, Chopra noted, the White House launched Challenge.gov, a one-stop-shop where entrepreneurs and innovators can follow in the footsteps of the Apps for Healthy Kids winners to compete for prizes and prestige by providing novel solutions to National problems, large and small.
Inspired by the First Lady's call to action, college students from the University of Southern California built Trainer, a game that challenges kids to strengthen their creature by training alongside it (in the real world!) as tracked by interactive webcam technology. Not only did Team Trainer cinch the GE healthymagination Student Award, they gave the adults a run for their money, claiming the Grand Prize in the overall standings.
Another winning student design, Work It Off prototype will take nutritional information and physical activity to mobile devices and encourage healthy competition among friends. Developed by Trinity College students in Hartford, Conn., as part of the Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software summer internship program, the app uses voice recognition to easily translate food choices to recommended exercises to Work It Off!
John Blackwell and his wife Ana are the team from Dayton, Ohio behind Tony's Plate Calculator, the winner of the Popular Choice Award in the "Tool" category. They initially created the winning food calculator for Tony, their teenage son who has diabetes. Now they have made it a free online tool for anyone seeking nutritional analyses of the food they eat.
Corporate recognition awards went to innovative designs of Food Hero by Children's Hospital Boston and Hungry Hiker Build-A-Meal by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In Food Hero, players can choose an avatar and choose meals throughout the day that fuel physical activity. Hungry Hiker challenges players to make a balanced plate to get their buddy to the summit. These fun and engaging games are great for classroom learning and sharing at home.
The Apps for Healthy Kids competition was sponsored and administered by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Funding for the GE healthymagination Students Awards was provided by General Electric.
The U.S Department of Agriculture is an active member of the Let's Move! team, alongside the Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative visit www.LetsMove.gov. The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is a collaborative initiative of the White House Office of the First Lady, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
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