Matthew Young is helping Canadian teachers and parents get kids eating better, moving more, and forming life-long healthy habits.
He’s the co-founder of the 60 Minute Kids’ Club, a free online program that provides information on healthy living for families — and challenges children from kindergarten to Grade 6 to track their information online in a fun, interactive format.
“We’re trying to entrench healthy habits for everyone,” says Young, a personal trainer in Vancouver.
Last year, 100 schools in British Columbia and 30 in Toronto participated, and this year, the program is open to schools across Canada, especially those in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario.
“We want it to be in every province,” says Young.
How to get involved
A teacher or school principal must contact a 60 Minute Kids’ Club ambassador to register their school; there is no cost, ever, to sign up. Each program runs for 45 or 60 days, and can operate simultaneously with other school wellness programs — running or KM clubs, for instance.
“Once they’ve registered, we send them a manual that answers every possible question they could have,” says Young.
A teacher explains the program to kids, who then go home, and with the help of a parent or guardian, sign up for free online. A child’s name, grade, school and an adult’s email address are all that is needed to take part, and information is shared only with the child’s teacher and school principal.
What happens next?
“When kids log onto the site, they aggregate points for themselves and for their school,” says Young. “We can determine the most active kid in the grade, the most active grade in the school, the most active school in the district, the most active district in the province, and the most active province in the country.”
What does a child have to do to earn points?
“There’s a nutrition tracker, and every day, they just check off what they’ve done: breakfast healthy snack, lunch, healthy snack, dinner. Every 15 minutes of activity gives them points, too … and if they tell themselves positive affirmations for that day, they get points for that, too. If they do less than two hours of screen/TV time, they get points, and they get points for reading and how much water they drink.”
It takes about five minutes to fill out the information each day, and a child can take time off if they are sick or on vacation.
What is the 5-2-1-0 rule?
“We didn’t come up with this, but it is part of the program — eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, two hours or less of screen time each day, one hour of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks.”
What if you homeschool your child(ren), but you still want to participate?
“We can set up a group where anyone that’s homeschooled can still take part,” says Young.
Can parents sign up, too?
“The parents have their own goal-setting, free, downloadable program,” says Young. “They can get their BMI [body mass index] checked and they can track their own experiences at the same time.”
At the end of the challenge, what happens?
“We recognize the top 10 most active kids in each school,” says Young, noting that prizes — wristbands, swimming goggles etc. — are handed out. (“They’re good prizes, but they’re not things that would compel a kid to cheat to win,” he says with a laugh.)
Winning schools get a 60 Minute Kids’ Club banner, recognizing their achievement, and Canada’s healthiest school — which must participate in three challenges throughout the year — wins a custom field trip. “The winning school last year was from Toronto, and they went to a Blue Jays game,” says Young.