UnitedHealthcare and Hasbro are collaborating on a national initiative to encourage young people to be more active through “exergaming.” More than 200 fifth-graders at P.S. 94 and P.S. 76 in the City of Buffalo are among the first students to receive NERF ENERGY Game Kits, which monitors and rewards students for being physically active.
NERF ENERGY Game Kits, which include a NERF ENERGY Game Band activity tracker, a NERF PRO FOAM soccer ball and the NERF ENERGY RUSH mobile game, allow children to pick their own method of being active. As children participate in physical activity, they earn “energy points” that are tracked by the game band, and these points turn into screen time to play the mobile game on a smartphone or tablet. The interactive Nerf Energy RUSH mobile game is an “endless runner” game that requires players to turn, jump and avoid obstacles to complete courses and earn power-ups to continue playing.
“Hasbro has long focused on making ‘healthy, active play’ fun and engaging for children and families by leveraging the popularity and play pattern of NERF products,” said Ted Fischer, vice president, business development for Hasbro. “This collaboration enhances both companies’ commitment to positive impact on children and families.”
As part of the Buffalo program, UnitedHealthcare and Hasbro are working with the City of Buffalo Public Schools and Buffalo State College to encourage students to continue to use the NERF ENERGY kits throughout the school year by hosting a school-to-school “NERF ENERGY Challenge.” Approximately 200 fifth-grade students from two schools will compete to accumulate the most energy points.
“We believe a little healthy competition between our fifth-graders will reinforce the good habits these students are learning through the program, while encouraging and rewarding team success,” said Kriner Cash, Ph.D., superintendent, City of Buffalo Public Schools.
Students from Buffalo State College will work with the individual schools to help track results and plan activities to support the challenge, which will run through the end of the school year. The winning school will receive a grant to purchase physical education equipment for their school.
Nationwide, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged two to 19 years are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly 30 percent of adults are obese, according to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report.
“We believe that young people will be motivated to move more when they realize what their true activity levels are – and are rewarded for their efforts,” said Pat Celli, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New York. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with schools and community-based youth organizations to provide this innovative activity program to more children.”
This program builds on UnitedHealthcare’s expertise in developing practical solutions to encourage people to be more active, including the use of exergames and gamification. UnitedHealthcare and Hasbro will deliver 10,000 NERF ENERGY Game Kits to elementary schools and community organizations in several states across the country. Children ages six to 12 will be eligible to receive the NERF ENERGY Game Kit at no cost.
Studies indicate that “exergaming” has the potential to reduce the growing obesity epidemic among children and adults. A study by George Washington University found exergames “spurred students to move enough to meet the recommended intensity criteria for vigorous activity” and that these games are “a useful alternative to traditional physical education.”