Mike Joyce, the VP of Programming at the Club commented: “The BodiMojo program is a great way to motivate the teen staffers to think about their own health while they are working. We’ve set up incentives for weekly step counts, including gift certificates, t-shirts and wristbands for the top 5 teen boys and girls. It’s remarkable the activity levels of some of these teens. It’s like they’re running around all day to get in their steps.”
Teen staffer, Bernard Barbosa, who accumulated the most steps in week one stated: “We pretty much chase after lots of little kids and play sports, and now we can see just how many steps that takes!”
The US Surgeon General recommends that American teenagers accumulate 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week – which is about 11,600 steps a day. Even greater amounts of physical activity may be necessary to stave off weight gain or for weight loss. This is particularly important as childhood obesity has reached an epidemic level, with 1 in 3 kids being overweight or obese.
Teenagers, however, have a unique set of wellness challenges that arrive with a host of maturational and social changes. Among girls, for instance, physical activity declines significantly in adolescence as they drop out of organized sports and body image issues increase. Use of a wireless pedometer may be an innovative solution to make girls more aware of their activity levels, especially since they can check their goals and stats online or on their cell phones. In fact, the BodiMojo has been shown in a controlled study to increase body confidence in girls through use of interactive body image tools and quizzes. Teen boys, on the other hand, connect to the competitive nature of tracking steps and are more inclined to compare their numbers to the other guys.
“Collaborating with the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester is a great opportunity to evaluate the BodiMojo in a real life setting and give tools to the program mentors though a new school companion program called HAP*Y Pact–or the Healthy Attitude Program for Youth. Our goal is to maximize technology for positive behavior change: We meet teenagers where they’re at in their digital playground. Basically, we get teens online to go offline. It’s not easy to make health cool. But we do,” said BodiMojo founder, Tara Cousineau, Ph.D., who is a clinical psychologist specializing in behavior change. One goal for the fall is to continue the program with the Club and to include younger members along with teens.
About the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester
Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester was established in 1970 as the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club. Three clubhouses serve as a place to learn, explore talents, play and make friends for Dorchester’s young people. The club members are between ages six and 18 have access to over 200 activities.
BodiMojo, Inc. is a local Boston start-up and develops web and mobile wellness tools for 13-18 year old teenagers. Youth organization and schools can subscribe to BodiMojo for programming, evaluation, and outcome data for health initiatives in their settings. Initial funding to support development was through the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program at the National Institutes of Health and NIDDK. [The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIDDK or the NIH.]