Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Dairy Association Indiana and the NFL’s Fuel Up To Play 60 Program. Through a series of posts, I’ll be sharing information about Fuel Up To Play 60 and how you and your kids can get involved.
Last month I found myself back in middle school. Just like my own middle school days, I woke up (too early for my liking), did my hair and makeup (I’d like to think I’m a little better at it now), and walked nervously through the cafeteria doors. I mingled with the students of Zionsville West Middle School as they prepped for a day of ISTEP testing by fueling up with a hearty breakfast. While breakfast is served every day for any student who wants it, this particular Monday morning was special, as it kicked off National School Breakfast Week.
Along with Indiana Dairy, Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts was there, serving breakfast and giving the students a pep talk about nutrition and fueling up for whatever lie ahead, whether it be the playoffs or a math test.
Healthy breakfasts and visits from NFL players are just a few of the benefits for a school participating in the Fuel Up To Play 60 Program (FUTP60). As a parent and a fan of the NFL, I’d heard of Play 60. However, if you pressed me for more information about the program, I’d have to punt, pass or kick on the question. I had no idea what the program was actually about, why I might want my kids involved, or if their school even participated. I figured that if I didn’t know, chances were pretty good you didn’t know, either. So when offered the chance to work with Indiana Dairy and the NFL to spread the word about FUTP60, I jumped. In the end, I hope you’re as inspired as I am to get kids fueled up and moving.
Like me, you may have heard of Play 60 and FUTP60, but weren’t sure what they were or if they were even different names for the same thing. Play 60 is the NFL’s campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day. Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program partner, in which the NFL and the National Dairy Council joined forces to create an in-school program that works with kids to combine daily physical activity with nutritious eating habits. Parents and kids can participate in Play 60 through schools, contests and community events. FUTP60, however, is an in-school program.
It turns out neither of my kids’ schools are participating in the FUTP60 (something I hope to change). I had the chance to speak with Andrea McMurtry, the Wellness teacher for 7th and 8th graders at Fishers Junior High. I had lots of questions for her about the program, and she was happy to answer.
How can a parent find out if their school is participating in the program?
Visit www.fueluptoplay60.com and choose whether you’re a student or a supporter. At the top of each page, you can enter your zip code to see which schools in your area are participating.
If your child’s school is participating, does that mean all the kids within that school are participating? And if not, how do they make sure their kids are signed up if they’re interested?
At Fishers Junior High, Andrea offers a promotion period at the end of each school year to get students involved. Student participants (or Ambassadors) do so on a voluntary basis. Not every school offers FUTP60, but a student can sign up on their own if they feel passionately about nutrition and physical activity.
What can a parent do if their school isn’t participating in FUTP60 and they want to get involved?
Parents can contact the school and see if teachers are interested in implementing the program. As well all know, teachers have full plates. For that reason, parents can also organize a group of students to do FUTP60 by signing up to represent their child’s school as a Program Advisor. Everything you need to know can be found on the Supporter section of the FUTP60 website.
I asked Andrea to tell me more about the kids from her school who were involved in FUTP60. The 30 FUTP60 Ambassadors at Fishers Junior High meet weekly with Andrea and discuss ways to improve the health and fitness of their peers. They combine challenges and suggestions provided by the FUTP60 program as well as create activities of their own. By participating in the program, Andrea sees firsthand how it empowers student leaders to create projects and ideas that will have a positive influence on their peers, through healthy eating challenges or physical activity events. Andrea also had very exciting news to share: one of her students was just picked as the state Ambassador for Indiana, and will get to attend the Student Ambassador Summit in Chicago this summer with all expenses paid! What an amazing opportunity.
I also asked Andrea if being involved in the program took up a lot of time, something both teachers and parents don’t have a lot of. She spends anywhere from an hour to 5 hours a week doing program-related activities, but feels that a Program Advisor could successfully run a school program for an hour a week or less.
I was so encouraged to hear this! It doesn’t take much to get involved and start making a positive impact on our kids’ nutrition and physical activity. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way in shaping healthy habits for our kids. Just yesterday, Eli came home from school after participating in Fitness Club. They’d talked about making healthy choices when eating, and how sometimes when you’re on vacation (we just returned from Spring Break) you make different choices. Would you believe the kid came home and asked if he could eat a healthy snack (pineapple) and run around the neighborhood a few times? Um, yes (and I should join you)! A program like Fuel Up To Play 60 can provide just that kind of encouragement and inspiration. I’m so excited to get involved.
Does your school participate in Fuel Up To Play 60? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences with the program. If not, would you consider being a Program Advisor?