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Posts tagged: Apps for Healthy Kids

Apps for Healthy Kids: All Hands on Deck to End Childhood Obesity

Cross-Posted from the Let’s Move Blog

By Aneesh Chopra, United States Chief Technology Officer

Thank you for your participation! By the time the Apps for Healthy Kids competition submission period closed last week, we had 160 submissions in hand and nearly 20,000 supporters. Now we are reviewing all submissions for eligibility and will have them all up on the website and ready to view by July 14. Our intention through this endeavor was to inspire software developers, game designers, and students from across the United States to develop fun and engaging tools to inspire and empower children to eat better and be more physically active. We are very excited to have received your many creative submissions, and equally excited to transition now to the voting phase of the competition. Read more »

Apps for Healthy Kids Competition Submission Period Closes

By Jackie Haven, Director, Nutrition Marketing and Communication Division, USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

The Apps for Healthy Kids submission period has officially come to a close yesterday and there was a flurry of entries submitted the last few days and hours! All submissions will now be reviewed for eligibility and qualified entries will be posted in the application gallery by July 14. Some entries are already available on the site to try-out; but with more being posted daily, you’ll want to be sure to keep stopping by to try out the latest game or app. Read more »

Mobilize to Make a Difference – Join an Apps for Healthy Kids Game Jam this Weekend!

A few short weeks week ago we announced an exciting partnership with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) to kindle innovation and creativity and offering unique opportunities for Apps for Healthy Kids contestants.  Now the excitement is about to begin.

Later today, Game Jams will kick off nationwide to provide support and feedback for designers and developers as they create games and apps with a nutrition focus for the competition. The game jams will draw game developers, graphic artists, and local youth together to brainstorm ideas and produce video game prototypes from scratch in just 48 hours.

Adding to the buzz, U.S. Chief technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will be on hand this afternoon at the George Mason University Game Jam to open the weekend of innovation. Tune in later this evening to watch his call to action and get the creativity flowing. His opening remarks will be streamed live at 5pm here. 

As many of you followers of the game scene know, the Apps for Healthy Kids competition challenges software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop innovative, fun, and engaging tools and games that help kids and their parents eat better and be more physically active. Prizes totaling $60,000 will be awarded to the entries that are voted the best by a panel of expert judges.

This weekend’s jams will offer a great opportunity for amateur and professional developers to share ideas and make great progress on their submissions. The prototypes created during the jams will be displayed at the sixth annual Games for Health Conference, May 26-27, 2010 in Boston, further refined, and submitted to the Apps for Healthy Kids competition before the June 30th deadline.

Current Game Jam locations include:


  • Boston, MA: Microsoft New England Research and Development, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge MA. Runs Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-9pm, Sunday 9am-6pm. Meals will be provided, but computers will not (so bring your own if possible). Boston announcement is here, if interested visit their registration page. For questions, contact the Boston organizer: Darius Kazemi (
  • Seattle, WA: Art Institute of Seattle, 2501 Elliott Ave, Seattle WA – Room 102 (enter at the main entrance on Alaskan Way, other entrances may be locked). Runs Friday 4pm-midnight, Saturday 9am-midnight, Sunday 9am-4pm. Be aware there is only street parking and paid garages in the area, so plan accordingly. Seattle organizer: Rusel DeMaria (
  • Orlando, FL: ZeeGee Games, 1 Purlieu Place, Winter Park FL. Runs Friday 6pm-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 10am-5pm. If interested, visit their Facebook page for more info and to RSVP. Orlando organizer: Dustin Clingman (
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, 700 Technology Drive. Runs Saturday 10am through Sunday 10am (overnight), with an additional Physical Game Jam from Sunday 10am-4pm. If interested, visit their event page to sign up. Pittsburgh organizer: Jia Ji (
  • Albany, NY: Troy Boys and Girls Club, 1700 Seventh Ave, Troy NY. Runs Friday 6pm-11pm, Saturday 10am-11pm, Sunday 10am-4pm. If interested, visit their event website for more info. New York organizer: Ian Stead (
  • Fairfax, VA: George Mason University, Fairfax Campus, Art and Design Building RM 1018. Starts Friday at 5pm. Participants should bring their own computers if possible. Meals will be provided. Fairfax organizers: Joel Gonzalez ( and Scott Martin (
  • Athens, GA: Mowerks Learning, 130 Ware Street, Unit A. Athens organizer: Jordan Lynn (


So get jammin’!

By Amanda Eamich, Director of New Media, USDA

Health Games Challenge Logo

Apps for Healthy Kids “Game Jams” Coming to a City Near You

Cross-posted from the White House OSTP Blog by Robynn Sturm

In unveiling the Childhood Obesity Task Force action plan earlier today, First Lady Michele Obama underscored the need to “marshal every resource” to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Two new partnerships announced today as part of the Apps for Healthy Kids competition will give Americans across the country a chance to join the First Lady in her Let’s Move! campaign—and to help give kids the healthy lives they deserve.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would partner with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) to host game jams on the weekend of May 21-23 in major U.S. cities, including Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The game jams will draw game developers, graphic artists, and local youth together to brainstorm ideas and produce video game prototypes from scratch in just 48 hours. The prototypes will be displayed at the sixth annual Games for Health Conference, further refined, and ultimately submitted to theApps for Healthy Kids competition before that competition’s June 30th deadline. You can find out more about jams near you on the Health Games Challenge website.

Launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the White House Office of the First Lady, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on March 10, 2010, the Apps for Healthy Kids competition challenges software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop innovative, fun, and engaging tools and games that help kids and their parents to eat better and be more physically active.

The game jams—which will be scheduled in a number of additional cities soon—will be great opportunities for amateur and experienced game developers to collaborate on competition entries and refine their creations before submitting them. But you don’t need to travel to join in creative collaboration! Developers across the country can now get targeted feedback from the toughest of critics—tweens—anytime and anywhere. Recognizing that kids can’t be beat when it comes to judging whether a game will capture the imagination of their peers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with Numedeon, Inc. to create a space within the virtual world where hundreds of thousands of tweens will be able to play, rate, and submit feedback to Apps for Healthy Kids contestants. Developers seeking feedback can post their game prototypes in the Whyville Game Arcade.

By creating opportunities for our nation’s most creative and talented innovators to work together and with our nation’s children, the two new partnerships announced today will maximize the number of high-quality submissions throughout the remaining 60 days of the Apps for Healthy Kids contest.

Robynn Sturm is Advisor for Open Innovation to the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Games for Healthy Kids, One Step at a Time

Cross posted from the White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy


This week my son Devon showed me the power of digital games to motivate kids to exercise. This is the core idea at the heart of the Apps for Healthy Kids competition launched by First Lady Michelle Obama last week. As OSTP worked closely with the Department of Agriculture in designing the competition, I had talked with many of my colleagues about its promise. But nothing could have crystallized better for me the immense potential of this approach than witnessing the impact on my own son in real time.

Devon is 11 years old and has a group of four friends who spend much of their free time playing video games. My wife and I have struggled to find ways to get Devon outside to take a walk or throw a ball around. But, in his mind, sports pale in comparison to the challenges of mastering his favorite digital games.

This week Devon set his sights on a new game. He couldn’t wait for us to drive to the store together and was willing to burn his last birthday gift cards on the purchase. This game was much different than other games because it was bundled with a pedometer for kids. Devon strapped the pedometer to his leg. The more he walks in real life the more bonus features are unlocked in the video game. With new adventures to unveil, he couldn’t wait to get moving.

I told my son about the Apps for Healthy Kids competition, and he suggested that he write to the First Lady to tell her about his experience. I thought that was a wonderful idea. So, we sat down together and drafted this letter:

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama:

My dad told me that you think it is really important that kids exercise and eat right, so I wanted to write this letter to tell you about a new video game I just got because you would find it interesting. My parents are always telling me that I have been playing my video games all day and that I should go outside and play. My sister, Isabel, plays softball and soccer, but I’m not into that. I was really excited this weekend because my dad took me out to pick up the new Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver game that I ordered. The store helped me unlock a new character in my game when I picked it up, and they gave me a Poke Walker that I clip to my pants. It counts my steps when I walk. Today I beamed one of my Pokémon named Onix into the Poke Walker. When I walked around so did my Pokémon. He earned watts in the game and that helps him evolve. The book also said that when I earn enough watts I can start battles and catch other Pokémon that I usually can’t find. I want to earn enough watts so I can catch Castiform or Kecleon. The book says that once I catch them in the Poke Walker I can beam them back into my game. I haven’t done that yet. I need to take a longer walk so that I can earn enough points. Dad says it should stop raining soon and we can walk around the neighborhood. I hope you are having a good time at the White House.

Devon Emanuel

The next day at work, I was surprised to learn that my colleague Debbie Stine, the Executive Director of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, had nearly the exact same experience with her daughter. Tina-Marie, also age 11, had purchased the same game and immediately started moving (including in the car on the way home despite being strapped into her seatbelt) to gather the precious watts so she can grow her Pokémon. “One of my friends brought her Poke Walker to school today and got 20 watts from just walking around the school!,” Tina Marie told her mom. Like my son, Tina Marie will be going to elementary school tomorrow with her Poke Walker strapped to her pants, taking every opportunity to take extra steps.

Is this the beginning of a new wave of technologies that will inspire and empower children to get active and eat healthy? When I was a kid, all we had was Pong! Now we have Dance, Dance Revolution, Wii Fit, and the upcoming Project Natal and Move as examples of active video game products. Will games like this not only capture kids’ imagination, but fundamentally change their behavior in high-impact ways over the long-run? I don’t know the answers to questions such as this. All I know is that I think I’ll take a walk with my son when I get home tonight.

Peter Emanuel is the Assistant Director of Chemical and Biological Countermeasures at OSTP and Devon Emanuel is a 5th grader at Emmorton Elementary School in Abingdon, MD

Attention Techies! Apps for Healthy Kids Launched Yesterday!

Yesterday was a very exciting day here at USDA as we joined First Lady Michelle Obama in announcing our Apps for Healthy Kids competition! Apps for Healthy Kids is part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity. Read more »