More than 70,000 schools across the country have incorporated aspects of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program into their day-to-day routines.
The program, which seeks to end childhood obesity within a generation, was launched in 2008 and is underwritten by the National Dairy Council and the NFL. The program has grown rapidly because of high-profile endorsements from the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama and others.
The growing support has enabled Fuel Up to Play 60 presenters like dietitian Robin Levy to ramp up efforts to encourage more school leaders to embrace the program.
Levy recently hosted an information session at to help administrators better understand the program.
"We have had a lot of success with local schools,” she said. “I’m here to let people know its not too late to join because Fuel Up to Play 60 is an on-going program that continues throughout the school year."
Valley View schools that have already adapted "plays" from the program’s playbook include ; , , , , , , , , , and elementary schools; , , , , middle schools; and both and high schools as well as the distirct’s Phoenix Experience.
The program is straightforward and draws from NFL-esque motivation. Operation is overseen by a leadership team that empowers student leaders to motivate their peers, sharing information, calling plays and taking the initiative to put those plays into action.
"The in-school grab and go breakfast, menu makeover and taste tests are popular plays," Levy said. "They all fit into the national healthier school challenge for lifelong sustainable change. The best aspect of the program is that kids decide to make these ‘plays’ or choices for themselves.”
Fuel Up to Play 60 supports school-based nutrition and physical fitness initiatives to help achieve the following goals.”
Those goals include:
- Increased access to and consumption of affordable and appealing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free daily foods and lean means in and out of school.
- Stimulate children and youth to be more physically active for at least 60 minutes every day in and out of school.
- Boost resources to schools in order to improve physical fitness and nutrition programs.
- Educate and motivate children and youth to eat the recommended daily servings of nutrient-rich foods and beverages.
- Empower children and youth to take action at their school and at home to develop their own pathways to better fitness and nutrition for life.
Teacher Laurie McIntyre and para-professional Kelly Wolf of Brooks Middle School are vocal advocates of the program.
McIntyre said most teachers had no snack policy prior to the program. Now, they are more informed.
"We sent out a student survey and over 75 percent felt hunger kept them from doing well in class,” she said. “The plays we chose came out of that survey."
Before a school can participate in Fuel Up to Play 60, they are required to complete a school wellness investigation. The results of that search form the building blocks for the plays they choose.
For Brooks, the plays led to a policy change to the no snack program. Students were allowed the leeway, with boundaries, to snack in class with the caveat that the snack be healthy.
Further, food source outlets were established in the gym, library and dean’s office, where students could purchase fruits, vegetables, yogurt and string cheese among other healthy options.
"We charge 25 cents for everything,” McIntyre said. “The program was partially subsidized through grant funds from Fuel Up to Play 60. It has been very successful."
This year, Brooks used additional grant funding to promote a student-athlete "milk mustache" campaign. Several 8th grade "Bulldogs" that illustrated respectful, responsible and positive behavior were featured on posters in the cafeteria.
Physical Education teacher Cherie Jackson and , who make up the leadership team at Jane Adams Middle School, credit active parent participation for the school-wide popularity of the program.
"Dorothy Andrews was instrumental in coordinating our Family Fitness nights," Jackson says. "She is a trainer for the Bolingbrook Park District and had a connection through them to . He came to our school and talked to students. It was inspirational and important to help get the word out and get the parents to support what we’re doing in school at home."
If interested in learning more about the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, contact Lorna Riggs at email@example.com.