As a WNBA all-star, Sue Wicks helped the New York Liberty reach three championship series. Now the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee is helping young people get physically active.
Wicks is the creator and “chief exercise officer” of Fight 2B Fit, an online-based, six-week team competition that challenges young people to take on simple steps to help develop healthy habits. Daily quizzes and instructional videos teach kids simple exercises they can do to stay in shape, and participants are challenged to make positive choices like drinking water instead of soda.
Kids measure their individual and team progress online. Awards are given to honor the winners at a special closing ceremony. In fact, all the kids receive a prize — part of an effort to encourage kids who aren’t naturally gifted athletes to be physically active.
“We’re hoping to reach a lot of kids and make fitness fun, and [show that] it’s for everyone,” says Wicks, a PreventObesity.net Leader. “It’s not just for the elite … it’s not about being a sports star. It’s about enjoying good health.”
Wicks and cofounder Corinne Nevinny were inspired to launch the program after seeing a lack of physical activity in schools. When Wicks played for the Liberty, the team regularly visited schools to encourage fitness. But those activities were “one-day knock-off things,” she says, and there was no follow-up to encourage kids to stay active year-round.
When Wicks retired from the league, she was drawn to community service work and decided to step up. “I thought there was a need, and it was something I enjoyed doing.”
Fight 2B Fit has reached several hundred youth at schools in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Newark, N.J., and a group of homeschooled kids in Washington state. With expansion plans that could bring the program to additional schools 1,000 kids could be participating in the fall.
Wicks has been surprised to find that shyer kids often do better than naturally gifted athletes. Part of the reason, she says, is that the program allows the kids to take on the physical activity challenges at home, giving them the privacy they might not have in the school gym.
This often surprises the students’ teachers — and parents—who have sent Wicks photos of their kids exercising early in the morning. “The parents are also involved with the exercises. So they’ll show their parents the exercises, and they’ll exercise with the kids,” Wicks says.
VIPs also have been known to stop by schools to encourage the kids. At a recent closing ceremony at PS 29 in Brooklyn, for example, Team USA Olympic Basketball player Teresa Edwards visited and even showed the kids an Olympic gold medal.
“You don’t have to be an elite athlete. All you have to do is be consistent, and you can get better,” Wicks says. “You’re rewarded for progress and getting better.”
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
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At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
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Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
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