South San Francisco, CA August 8, 2016 by Ashley Hunter Riley, Founder of Fit Kids
Here in the U.S., our government recommends 60 minutes of daily physical activity. That’s roughly the time it takes to watch a TV episode or two. Seems like an easy task, no?
Unfortunately, lots of children – including those in California – don’t have easy opportunities to be active.
Many schools right here in the Bay Area lack the resources needed to get a whole student body moving, and as a result, schools often have to look for creative solutions and partnerships. That’s where Fit Kids steps in, and here in South San Francisco, Los Cerritos Elementary is adopting the Fit Kids program.
But first: a little history. What is Fit Kids, and where did it come from?
After reading an article in Gentry Magazine five years ago about nonprofit sports programs – and specifically, the fact that a lot of Bay Area kids couldn’t participate because of cost – I was inspired to do something. Physical activity is a critical part of every child’s healthy development, and far too many children lack adequate opportunities to be active at school or in their neighborhoods. Every child deserves the chance to experience the physical, mental, social and emotional benefits that come from an active lifestyle, and that article opened my eyes to the fact that physical activity is not equally accessible to all kids. Without a safe park, a sufficient school playground, money for youth sports programs or a parent at home available for activity, there are a ton of kids who just aren’t able to be sufficiently active.
So I started a 501C(3) nonprofit – The Fit Kids Foundation – with the idea that paid coaches would go to underserved schools several times a week to perform specialized, fun fitness games with students as an afterschool program. We started at just three elementary schools in 2011, and now, we’ve worked with 25 schools and organizations, mostly around the Bay Area. One of those schools is Los Cerritos Elementary in South San Francisco.
“We believe that our school needs to educate our community about the importance of health and fitness,” says Los Cerritos Principal Kennelyn Celeste. “[Teachers] are aware that our school district has the highest percentage of obese students.”
So Los Cerritos – a K-5 school with 300 students – decided to do something about student obesity.
This school was part of an initial pilot program with Fit Kids, which helped launch our official Charter Program in the fall of 2015. With our Charter Program, schools receive free equipment and online training, plus get access to our science-driven fitness curriculum. For schools that don’t already have Fit Kids in place, this gives them an opportunity to get going with the program, and get their students moving quickly.
Currently, classroom teachers at Los Cerritos lead Fit Kids, and the results have been nothing short of inspiring. We look forward to reaching even more communities in the Bay Area, and across the country via our Charter Program. When kids thrive physically, success – across so many critical areas of childhood – follows.