Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Changing the shape of a nation.


 It was Nov 2009 when a good friend from Ontario came into town on a business trip. He would step into our children’s rooms, see their conduct contracts on the wall and be inspired to take that idea to the next level. Returning home, he would not only integrate contracts into his children’s daily habits, he would go into elementary schools he was invited to speak and challenge them too; 60 days of activity for 60 minutes / day. He  would create activity contracts kids would sign and with the help of a talented friend, brand the concept The 60 Minute Kids Club. With that, what will be one of the most significant initiatives in the country was born.

On a consecutive trip, he would share the program with another associate who saw the potential and brought it to our attention. It was good, but needed to be great if it were to be scaled. The limiting factor of the idea was the time needed to take it to the next level. Would it work? How would it be funded? Who would dedicate time & attention to it? How would it scale? None of those questions actually entered our minds because to be frank, those are questions entrepreneurs ask.... later.

Our 1st stop was the gvt. Using our contacts, we approached them for assistance. It was here we would learn how difficult collaborating with gvt could be. Public and private are two very distinct animals, both of which serve great purpose and both of which have strengths and limitations. While our initial meetings were not overly fruitful, we knew with time and attention, we would be back at this table. In the meantime, we would take it upon ourselves to use our personal contacts to make it into elementary schools and test our idea.

The idea (to be clear) is that our childhood obesity problem doesn’t have to be a problem if it is addressed early, often and meaningfully from K-5. Healthy & active children are not an option, hence their willingness to participate in preventative programming should not be an option. Given our 20 years experience in personal training and our research around programs that already existed we would come to a few conclusions about gaps that needed to be addressed for program adherence. 


  1. people need incentive to participate in programming. If we wanted to increase the results, we needed to increase the incentives.
  2. people need to be held accountable to programming. Quantitative, tangible, meaningful stats vs. qualitative intention.
  3. people needed follow up on the success / failure of the programming. Reports generated to share what had actually happened.
  4. people needed an enjoyable ‘experience’ to become & remain engaged in the programming.






With this information we would combine best high touch (human interaction) practices with best high tech (computer interface) practices, throw in a healthy challenge and pilot the 60 Minute Kidsclub program. We wanted to see if our ‘idea’ would stand up to the scrutiny of a very taxed, tired and tricky system of the school boards. Our 1st stop was the various contacts we had in schools across the country; Nova Scotia, Ontario & British Columbia. We needed a solid sponsor, and did our due diligence around companies we believed to be the right fit for our cause. TELUS stood out and while they get pitched on a thousands of different good ideas / day, we felt strongly this was the ‘one’. We shared, pursued, followed up, and followed up again to eventually strike a 5 year deal that would ensure there was no cost to the end users (kids). This persistence would prove to be invaluable!

In 2010/2011, we would select 5 schools / region [Nova Scotia, Ontario & British Columbia] for our pilot project from various socioeconomic backgrounds and run the program over a 60 day challenge. The results were encouraging. 68% of kids across the nation would be actively engaged in the program for the 60 days. The ‘big’ revelation; the program didn’t just support the kids who were already fit and active, it provided the contributions of those who may not be on their school teams the opportunity to count. Essentially, they were now contributing members on their school team vs. 1 size fits all. We had engaged over 5000 kids.

Step 2 (2011/12) would be implementing the program year round, narrowing our focus to British Columbia and Ontario while scaling the number of kids from 5000 to 15000. Again, we would yield participation rates of 70% (avg of both provinces) and more importantly, the concept started to capture the attention of entire school districts, setting up the 2012/13 school year to scale significantly.


Currently, we are set to service 6 entire school districts in British Columbia and the 2 largest districts in Ontario (that's potentially over 60 000 kids). Through our excellent partnership with the TELUS team we are also set to engage the province of Alberta and eventually Quebec. At the same time we’ve received national charitable status and will continue working to ensure physical literacy is more than talk, carries no cost and provides incentive, accountability and follow up to create healthy habits from K-5 across the nation. 


If you would like to find out more about the 60MinuteKidsclub and our goal of eradicating childhood obesity, contact us gillian@innovativefitness.com [Western Canada] or antonio@innovativefitness.com [Eastern Canad]. You can also sponsor a kid, class or school by following the links here

 

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