Youth encouraged to ‘Get Up, Get Out and Get Fit’

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Since 2005, participants of the more than 60,000-strong program, can set goals, track their progress through a point system and earn prizes for reaching their goals, all on the FitFactor Web site.

"It's a really great program to get kids out and moving or just get them out doing something to get fit," said Regina Mullins, youth center school age coordinator at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

FitFactor categories include instructional classes, league sports, individual and Air Force-wide activities, and healthy eating.

A child can perform a wide array of physical tasks like walking the dog or performing household chores and still receive credit, said Ruben Rodriguez, youth center youth sports director and lead for the award-winning program at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Activities are worth 25 or 50 points and participants can log up to 100 points per day. The incentives, based on personal achievements, include FitFactor Frisbees, jump ropes, pedometers and a variety of other fitness gear.

With more than 400 children enrolled annually, Lackland's FitFactor director champions the benefits of the program.

"Kids see progress as they accumulate points toward their next level and when that is achieved, they feel a sense of accomplishment," Rodriguez said. "This translates to teaching, in a fun way, goal-setting skills they can apply for the rest of their lives."

Fun is the name of the game for 12-year-old Empress Phagoo.

"FitFactor keeps me motivated because then I get the points and I also like the prizes," said the two-year Lackland FitFactor veteran. "And you can lose weight if you really want to. It's fun."

A key component of the overall Air Force Youth Programs fitness and health initiative, FitFactor focuses on those long-term successes.

It's about encouraging healthy choices and teaching youth of all ages to value their lives, Gilman said.

"Being healthy and fit will increase their self-esteem and help them establish the desire to set personal goals," she added. "And the most important aspect of any exercise program is that it be fun."

To get the fun started, youth centers will host various events in support of the nationwide Worldwide Day of Play, an entire day dedicated to active play and healthy living.

"It encourages kids and parents to turn off all electronics and play, especially outdoors," Gilman said. "This gives youth the opportunity to understand there is more to life than electronics, television, and cell phones."

At youth centers across the Air Force, participants can expect to receive FitFactor giveaways, enroll in the youth fitness initiative, and enjoy entertainment, games, and healthy refreshments.

The Nellis Youth Center staff expects at least 60 youth ages 5 to 18 to participate in their day's activities, which will include relay races, roller-skating, and a hiking trip. The youth center staff will also provide healthy snacks throughout the day.

"It's a safe place for them to come, hang out with their peers and play some teambuilding games," Mullins said.

At Lackland participants can expect traditional and nontraditional sports, planned by the youth center staff and their teen leadership group.

"This annual event will provide fun yet fitness-inspired game opportunities for the youth," said Leslie Thompson Lackland AFB Youth Center youth programmer. "They'll learn they don't just have to play traditional sports for fitness. We'll show them how to think outside the box where movement and activity equals fitness and fun."

Across the Air Force, Services officials believe these programs will play a major role in keeping youth and teens healthy and in shape.

"It is important that we provide today's youth of all ages the opportunity to be active every day, teach them to make informed nutritional choices and encourage a healthy lifestyle at all times," Gilman said. "The effects will last a lifetime."

For more information about FitFactor and other youth programs visit [ ] or stop by a local installation youth center. More information about WWDoP can be found at [ ].