UnitedHealthcare seeks to improve kids' health through play

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Every parent knows the feeling when their kids are playing video games, you are lucky if you can hold their attention long enough the even answer a question. But when kids at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix want some screen time, they have to earn it. “And to earn that right they have to be active,” says Joe Gaudio with UnitedHealthcare.” That's right, if they want to play...they have to play.

That is the idea behind Nerf energy kits, provided to the Boys and Girls Clubs by UniteHhealthcare.  “It includes a wearable tracker, they place on their wrist, a soccer ball and access to a mobile app called Nerf energy rush. which is a video game,” says Gaudio,  

The whole idea is to promote healthy habits, he adds, “In Arizona approximately 20%  of our kids ages 2 to 19 are considered to be obese, this program is about our efforts to help reduce child hood obesity.”

John Patris-Brown with the boys and girls club says the idea fits kids perfectly, “So between actual physical exercise and video gaming, you are hitting the needs of most of our members who walk through our doors.”

The way it actually works is  when kids exercise or play, the activity is tracked on the wristband. The more points they get here, the more play time they get on that Nerf video game.

Patris-Brown says it is a huge plus for them, because many of the kids here don't have access to either the technology or a safe place to play outside of the club, “To bring in 150 Nerf gaming units like this would be something a boys and girls club would not have in the budget.”

And while virtual play or real play may all just be fun and games for these kids, Gaudio says in the long run it is about much more than that. “Because when we have a healthier community we have a stronger community.”

UHC specifically donated kits to organizations serving low income areas because social determinants drive 40% of healthcare costs.

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