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It's a fact ... Holloman's youth center is fit

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Youth and Teen Center was awarded $1,250 recently for being fit and smart via the U.S. Air Force FitFactor program's 101 Days of Summer Fun promotion.

"The promotion was to increase participation rates and get kids already participating to achieve higher fitness levels in the summer," said John Smith, youth programs director at the Youth Center.

FitFactor, a Web-based program launched Oct. 3 of last year, is designed to promote healthy lifestyles in Air Force children. Participants sign up by going to their local youth centers, where staff provide them with a user name and password. Those under the age of 13 will need a parental permission form, which can be printed from the FitFactor Web site (www.afgetfit.com) or obtained at the Youth Center.

Once participants are enrolled, they can log on to the FitFactor Web site and start playing. The site features a long and varied list of activities for children to select from, and each activity has a point value they can log into their accounts online once they complete it. All points are recorded based on the FitFactor honor system, a code of honesty participants agree to when they sign up.

A child can earn 25 points for drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water in a day, practicing archery or walking the dog. Tai Chi, tumbling and tetherball are worth 50 points each. Even league sports, like baseball or cheerleading, can be logged in for points. Children can earn up to 100 points per day, and once they reach 1,000 points they are welcomed to the first level--Energy.

FitFactor has six levels children can achieve by earning points: Energy, Strength, Agility, Adventure, Endurance and Feel the Power. They can earn prizes such as pins, bracelets, t-shirts, etc., and youth centers can win grant money, such as $1000 for having at least 50 percent of their participants reach the next level.

"We moved about 85 percent up one level, and that's how we won grant money ($1,000)," said Rhonda Fowler, teen program coordinator at the Youth Center.
The Youth Center won another $250 for a best practice idea submitted, which was to engage the kids in daily activities for FitFactor hour.

"FitFactor activity hour, I guess you could call it," Ms. Fowler said. "It's basically for fitness and large group activities. We usually have one a day in the afternoon; they're different every day. It can entail playing football in the gym, playing bocce; we've taken them on hikes ... something different every day."

Youth centers can submit as many best practices as they like, then Air Combat Command awards grant money for the best ones. Ideas must fit in one or more of the core areas: informal youth sports, fitness and recreation; health and life skills programs; character and leadership development; education and career development; the arts; and the league youth sports program.

The Youth Center was notified of the award Oct. 12, and it will be direct deposited into their account. They plan to use the award money to purchase a couple of fitness bikes.
"They're kind of a unique type of fitness bike that hooks up to a video game system, like Playstation 2 or X-Box," Smith said. "And using certain types of video games, like racing games, the fitness bike is a controller ... as they're pedaling, their character--car, motorcycle, whatever--in the video game will be moving along the track or course." Smith hopes these fitness bikes will get kids who enjoy video games more involved in FitFactor and fitness in general.

Presently the Youth Center has 70 children ages 9 through 18 enrolled in FitFactor. Since Oct. 7, the program has expanded to admit 6- to 8-year-olds, and the Youth Center has over 20 children in that age group already signed up.

The total amount awarded to all Air Force bases through the FitFactor 101 Days of Summer Fun promotion was $51,250, and $14,750 of that amount was awarded to ACC bases.