Throughout Canada, it’s no secret that childhood obesity has become one of the country’s biggest health problems.
Perhaps thanks in part to measures like the province’s ban on fast food advertising aimed at children, Quebec has some of the lowest rates of childhood obesity in the country.
But, even with effective measures like that, the abundance of unhealthy food and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle make the rate of childhood obesity slowly tick ever higher.
Across the border in the United States, where one in three kids and teens are obese or overweight, one entrepreneur is trying to fight the health crisis by getting kids moving again in an innovative new way.
Heather Parisi is the co-creator of Flip2BFit, a fitness board game for kids that aims to make kids active through fun fitness challenges.
The game works by spinning a wheel and ‘flipping’ a card with a fitness challenge on it. The challenges range from simple, like stretches or jumping, to potentially new experiences for kids, like yoga postures.
Parisi said that actually being able to watch kids play the game, which will soon be available in French and Spanish, was one of the most rewarding parts of the design process.
“Once they open the box and spin the wheel for the first time, it’s an amazing process to watch people start to laugh, giggle and experience fitness in a fun way,” Parisi said.
The idea of making a board game came to her when she remembered all the fun she had during “family fun nights” growing up, where her family got together and sat down to play board games.
Beyond just having her childhood memories serve as an inspiration, Parisi worked with another of her inspirations while designing the game: her father Nick, a former teacher and sports coach.
“Working on the games with my dad has been an incredible experience,” she said. “It’s not only allowed us to collaborate on something that was a part of me and all I wanted to give back to the world but it truly brought us closer together and is allowing us to experience the happiness of success and a new level within our relationship.”
In addition to Flip2BFit, Parisi tries to make a positive impact in the lives of children through her charity, Fitness For Africa, which has multiple projects that help provide education, improve child literacy, and promote healthy lifestyles.
Parisi started the charity in 2013 after previously travelling to Uganda and meeting child survivors of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the militant group led by Joseph Kony.
Parisi said after that moment and seeing the impact that simple projects can have in the lives of children, she knew what she had to do.
“I truly believe that the power of education, being able to read and write is the core to assuring that all those that I touch become viable members of their community and have the ability to make an informed decision, whether about local politics or the foods that they cook and eat,” she said.
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