MECKids—Using Gamification and Incentives to Keep Kids Engaged

Kids are glued to games on their tablets and smart phones. Too much time sitting on the couch can result in not enough physical exercise, and in extreme cases, can lead to obesity. Getting kids to disengage in their games and become interested in their own health and fitness is no easy task.

 

This was the challenge that Fran Bishop faced when she decided to take up this worthwhile cause. She had already launched two successful companies in the 1990s, Aerobodies and AFC Management Services, which focused on innovative wellness programs and health technology solutions. The inspiration for her next organization, MECKids, came from a single phone call. Lisa Perez, an overweight 16-year-old, called about one of Fran’s corporate fitness programs. She had mistakenly thought that the corporate $499 program was under $5.00.

 

Fran started to think about how difficult it must have been for a 16-year-old to make that call. That intention was the first step to getting healthy. Wouldn’t it be great to offer an online platform where kids could track their own health and fitness goals? It would be a community where they could communicate safely about their new health habits. That’s how MECKids was born. The M stands for Motivating, the E for Educating, and the C for Connecting.

 

Rewards for New and Better Habits

 

Through focus groups and suggestions from the MECKids advisory board, it soon became apparent that the same gamification and incentive techniques used in kids’ must-have games could be used to make MECKids engaging. As kids fill out their electronic journals and track their health and fitness goals, they can get points that earn gift certificates, online certificates of merit, badges, and gifts. There are also incentives for teachers who inspire their students.

 

Charlotte Kelso, a physical education teacher and CEO of ActPherd, Inc., a premier training service for educators, shares some of her comments about the value of MECKids:

 

My students are free to track their fitness goals and activity on their own time as well as during class. The social interaction assists students to share with peers. They can talk about how they feel about the activity and compare their progress as they try to compete for a piece of the pie. The graphics and information are very sharp and assist students to input information that is translated into terms and items they recognize.

 

The program assists by allowing shy, introverted students to share quietly with everyone how they are doing and be proud of their progress. I use the social network to keep track, encourage, and support all students. The nutritional information supports what I teach in health and gives a snapshot of each student’s wellness level. 

 

Do you know someone who needs MECKids?

 

Let’s help our kids get the exercise they need and the health education they deserve. Do you know teachers, parents, and schools who want to help kids get healthy? If the answer is yes, please contact Michellet@meckids.comor call 866.659.3400 for more information.

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