Encouraging kids to be fit for the future

Access hundreds of free resources online: lesson plans, videos, games and more

A girl runs through an obstacle course in a colorful room designed by Sanford fit.

Kids can be picky eaters. And moody. And glued to screens.

Kids can also learn to make healthy choices — about their food, their behavior and their activities.

Sanford fit is a community health program established in 2010 to give parents, teachers and community members tools to help teach kids about healthy behaviors.

“We want to educate, motivate and inspire children of all ages to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle,” said Amy Baete, fit’s program director.

“A lot of children’s health programs focus exclusively on exercise or healthy eating. What makes us unique is that we also put emphasis on the importance of getting enough sleep, recharging without a screen, and understanding how our energy and mood affect the choices we make.”

Free resources for everyone

The Sanford fit program includes hundreds of resources like classroom lessons, videos, slideshows, printables, articles, interactive games and activities to do with kids. Everything in the program is developed using scientific and behavioral research to be effective and easy to use.

The program’s entire resource library is available to the public — for free.

Learn more: Discover kids’ health resources on the new Sanford fit website

“Our content addresses today’s most critical health and wellness issues in a way that’s aligned with age-appropriate social and emotional learning skills and national health education standards,” Baete said.

By offering all the resources online free of charge, fit is empowering everyone to make a difference.

“Evidence suggests that kids who feel supported by their family and friends to become active and make healthy food choices are more likely to participate in those behaviors,” Baete said. “Together, we’re helping kids build a foundation for healthy habits that can last a lifetime.”

‘Do the most good’

Sanford fit is part of Sanford Health’s key initiatives created with a philanthropic gift from Denny Sanford.

“Mr. Sanford’s vision is to invest in where you can do the most good — and we’ve done a really incredible job of that with this program,” Baete said. “Knowing that our work helps kids feel happier and better about themselves is incredibly motivating.”

The online fit materials have been accessed by tens of thousands of users and impacted an estimated 4 million children in the nine years since the program began. With updated resources on a newly redesigned website, Baete says she and her team are excited to move the program forward into new communities and with new partners.

Beyond the online materials, the fit team is also bringing the program to life in community spaces. For example:

  • A wellness center in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, offers a fitZone for children featuring ninja warrior classes.
  • The Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is home to an interactive fitZone where children can have fun with wheelchair races, virtual reality bicycles and a dance gaming system.
  • A fitZone space is being created in the waiting room of a children’s clinic in Sioux Falls that features a castle-themed movement path to encourage kids to get moving.
  • When it opens this fall, Great Shots will showcase another fitZone that includes a climbing wall and interactive floor play system.

Additional collaborations are in the works with Profile by Sanford, Sanford PROMISE and Sanford Family Wellness in Fargo, North Dakota.

Healthy habits, healthy kids

At its core, fit is an investment in the future of children.

“Recent data from the CDC indicates that 18.4% of children age 6–11 are obese. Rates of youth mental illness are on the rise. Only one in three children are active every day,” Baete said. “This program is part of our vision at Sanford Health to improve the human condition at every stage of life, including childhood.

“When we come together to address health needs in our community, we can make a difference for our kids. This is a program Sanford Health can be proud of, and I hope people explore the program and share it with their friends, family and schools. There is really something for everyone.”

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Posted In Children's, Healthy Living

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