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Fit4Kids turns exercise and healthy food into a game

Photo of a paper that says “Smoothie Competition” has a grid for the judges to rate the smoothies for the contest.
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Fit4Kids promotes a healthy lifestyle for children by making nutrition and movement fun.

Fit4Kids, a Richmond-based nonprofit, promotes a healthy lifestyle for children by making physical activity and healthy eating fun. It runs the “Game On Girl” weekly after-school program at Lucille Brown Middle School that teaches kids how to prepare delicious healthy foods. Studies show that well-nourished children do better academically and have greater self-esteem.


SAM CLAVEL (PROGRAM COORDINATOR, FIT4KIDS, GAME ON, GIRL!): So, I got all the fresh frozen fruits and veggies. We brought it today to do an essentially, a smoothie competition with the girls. They were super excited. We try to make healthy, healthy eating habits and physical activity, very fun for them, essentially.

TEACHER: “One, two.”

SAM CLAVEL: We encourage the girls to move their bodies in different ways and with different abilities.

TEACHER: “You need space to move, 'cause you're going to move your bodies real quick.”

SAM CLAVEL: Fit4Kids is a nonprofit that was founded in 2010, by Sports Backers, so they never had a program targeting kids like we do where they're first, and we target health and wellness as a whole, with these kids. We promote physical activity and healthy eating habits through numerous different programs that we have at Fit4Kids.

JESIAH BRADBY (LUCILLE BROWN MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT): Fruits and vegetables help you grow and they make you stay strong and healthy. But we just do a lot of fun stuff like activities, fun games, stuff that we haven't did before.

SAM CLAVEL: We're going to talk about fruits and veggies and we're going to make some smoothies today. Are we excited? What kind of stuff do you put in your smoothies.

STUDENT: Green apple. Things that are green.

SAM CLAVEL: Game On Girl! is a program that targets middle school aged girls to be physically active, make nutritious food choices, and then be leaders in their community.

TEACHER: You are going to be creating your own smoothie that judges are going to try.

SAM CLAVEL: We bring interns on from different majors. It means a lot to bring these types of college students here because they look up to them. They're closer to age in them so they relate more to them.

SAM CLAVEL: Title One Schools are schools that are in neighborhoods that are facing socioeconomic barriers and where a lot of the kids that go to these schools are getting free lunches and applying for free lunches. They are eating foods that are easily accessible to them. So, they are eating stuff like Takis and chips and all these different things, because that's what they have access to during the school day or at home. There is a rise to obesity and heart disease and all that stuff. Essentially, what we're doing is we're trying to tackle that head on.

STUDENT: See it's tropical.

SAM CLAVEL: We try to make it very simple and very fun for them and as engaging as possible, because we don't focus on calorie counting or dieting or anything like that. We want to make sure they are happy and healthy at any capacity and in any way, shape or form, that they can do. Seeing what goes into these smoothies and seeing what goes into these dishes and trying just different stuff that maybe they never tried before, or they didn't have a good relationship with. Seeing what good they could do a frozen fruit for example, 'cause frozen fruit is still cheaper than fresh fruit and it lasts longer.

TEACHER: Come up for judging please.

SAM CLAVEL: I hope they take all the cooking demos that they do and all the physical activities that they learn and like continue it at home and continue talking to their friends about it and talking to their families about it, and then hopefully jump starting that conversation of them wanting to try these fruits and veggies. Like it's good for them.

SAM CLAVEL TO STUDENTS: Well, we are going to award the game winners today. Team Two!

JESIAH BRADBY: You just don't want to congratulate yourself, 'cause other people, they was working hard too. They tried their best. Even though they didn't win, it doesn't matter. You all tried your best at the end of the day, and you all did good.

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