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Healthy Futures is an Alaska-based, statewide grassroots initiative founded in 2003 by two parents, the late Bonny Sosa and her husband Sam Young. Bonny and Sam were concerned with the growing obesity epidemic in Alaska and felt if they stood by doing nothing, they were part of the problem versus the solution. Healthy Futures is now the signature program of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.
Currently, about 26% of Alaska high school students and 41% of 3-year-olds are overweight or obese, and only 21% of high school students get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. The mission of Healthy Futures is simply to empower Alaska's youth to build the habit of daily physical activity. This is accomplished through two core programs: the Healthy Futures Physical Activity Challenge and increasing youth attendance at community recreational events. In addition, Healthy Futures provides youth with access to positive, physically active role models, called Healthy Heroes, through classroom and event participation. These heroes include Alaska athletes, such as Olympic skiers Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks and Aelin Peterson, as well as NHLer Scott Gomez.
The Healthy Futures Physical Activity Challenge uses activity logs as an incentive-based, record-keeping tool for students and teachers. With parental supervision, children record their daily physical activity during a one-month period on a Healthy Futures activity log. To successfully complete the challenge, the student must log 30 minutes of vigorous activity outside of their physical education classroom, three times per week for four consecutive weeks. Students turn in completed logs to participating Healthy Futures school coordinators, and then they receive monthly incentives. Students who turn in three consecutive logs are eligible for the grand prize incentive drawing. The grand prize is a $300 sports package of the student's choice.
Partners and sponsors of Healthy Futures include the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Providence Health & Services Alaska, the United Way of Anchorage, ConocoPhillips, the Alaska Kidney Foundation, Anchorage Department of Parks and Recreation, Anchorage School District, as well as individual donors.
Healthy Futures has been growing steadily since its inception and is still picking up steam! In its first year of operation (2003) 2,300 kids participated by attending a community event or submitting a physical activity log. At that time, 30 schools participated. In the spring semester of 2013, Healthy Futures had 15,703 total participants who attended events or submitted activity logs, with 136 schools participating. To date, 131 schools are signed up to participate in the Fall 2013 Healthy Futures Challenge! (Click to see map of participating schools).
Cindy Norquest, program director for Healthy Futures, recently participated as an expert guest on a panel in Washington, D.C, organized for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association collaboration, Voices for Healthy Kids. Norquest was invited to speak about obesity prevention efforts in Anchorage, one of a number of communities recognized for seeing declines in childhood obesity rates. In addition, Norquest was a 2013 recipient of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Community Leadership Award.
Get Involved with Healthy Futures