On a warm October day in 2008, I had just finished a workout with my longtime running group at RunTex, the premiere running store in Austin, Texas. The store’s owner, and our coach, Paul Carrozza has helped everyone from President Bush to age-group runners improve. On that particular day, Governor Rick Perry, myself and Paul sat on the deck and preformed a common ritual of trying to figure out how to change the world for the better. Most of the ideas never left the deck.
But on this day, one did.
Results from the newly implemented, FITNESSGRAM had recently been released. The state-mandated physical education test, in which every student in grades 3rd – 12th took, which measured six basic components of a child’s overall fitness and health.
Statewide results found that approximately 32% of third-grade girls and less than 28% of third-grade boys reached the “Healthy Fitness Zone.” By seventh grade, only 21% of the girls and 17% of the boys still met this achievement level. By 12th grade, just 8% of the girls and less than 9% of the boys met the health standards in all six tests.
Governor Perry threw out a question: “How are we going to improve on these test results and reverse the health trends our children are facing?”
Having spent my career as a story-teller focused on health and fitness; first as the owner of a media production company, then as a TV sportscaster, next as the author of "Every Town Needs a Trail", a coffee-table book focused on health and community, and most recently, writing and directing an educational documentary on childhood health issues entitled "Health Needs a Hero", I’ve developed a unique talent to bring things to life; not creating the story, just uncovering it and presenting it in a simple, understandable way so that everyone can relate and be a part of it.
For me, the answer to the question was easy.
Solving the obesity epidemic is not about offering strategies at a 50-thousand foot level, but instead about empowering each individual to take personal responsibility for their own health and life, while at the same time building a support system around each individual for long term sustainability. It's about simple things that work and practical ideas that build upon already established efforts. It's about meeting people where they live their lives already. Most importantly, it’s about making health really matter to everyone involved…and the best way to do that is to build the "story" about each individual, using their own body and in motion and delivering that information in the "language" they understand. For kids, that primary language is technology.
While home is the best place to build that story, school is the most logical.
While working with school administrators, physical education experts and especially students over the next year filming "Health Needs a Hero", I became inspired to increase the use of technology in the PE classroom to accurately track and measure individual student effort and activity. I began to envision a powerful physical education tool that would not only capture, store and deliver vital physical activity data but also provide students, parents, teachers and administrators with a comprehensive, day-by-day profile of student health information. In essence, my vision was to develop a system that could be a total PE solution, delivering individual training in a group setting. A system that could also integrate nutrition information, correlate back to academic and attendance success, and be effortless and simple to use for all participants. Lastly, ongoing support and community partnerships would ensure long-term sustainability and success.
From this idea IHT and its “Spirit System” was formed.
Based in Austin, Texas under the leadership of co-founder and CEO Ben Bentzin and our combined vision, along with the expertise and talent of our incredible team, Interactive Health Technologies’ strives to revolutionize Physical Education classrooms for the 21st century, while building strong partnerships with school districts, corporations, and individuals to meet their preventative healthcare goals. Our overall goal is to play a major role in helping write the next chapter of the story: making PE and Health a daily requirement in schools K-12, viewed as important as Math, Science, English and Social Studies.
Now that would be a story book ending for children, their families and our collective future.
© 2015 Interactive Health Technologies, LLC