AURORA, Colo. – A soccer ball, a bicycle and an all-expense paid trip to Iceland. A hard-working student at Kenton Elementary School, who has never been on an airplane before, earned those prizes during the inaugural year of 5th Gear Kids, a partnership between University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek School District and Children’s Hospital Colorado.
5th Gear Kids is a wellness program for 5th graders to prevent obesity, improve academic performance and enhance lifelong health. It teaches kids how to balance energy taken in through food with energy expended in metabolism and physical activity. Kids learn the principles of energy balance in school and practice these skills through earning incentives and prizes when they make healthy choices in the community. Kids earn points by engaging in physical activity and by making healthy food choices while shopping at dozens of community partners. One out of three children in Colorado is considered overweight or obese. Most of them will fight obesity as adults.
Franklin Carpenter earned 33,800 points participating in the program. Carpenter is the first student to earn the grand prize award since the program started at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. Approximately 7,200 students in APS and Cherry Creek took part in “5th Gear Kids” earning 3,570,241 points. Students redeem their points for prizes like recreation equipment. The top six point earners were put in a drawing for the trip to Iceland.
Wonders of Iceland and Iceland Travel are donating the trip for two with Icelandair taking care of the airfare. The five-day trip is worth more than $5000 and includes accommodations, travel fees, food and excursions. Wonders of Iceland and Iceland Travel are providing a tour of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, whale watching and horseback riding.
Carpenter is 11 years old and he may have been a bit overwhelmed by his award for making good choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise. He has never been on an airplane so he is excited about the trip to Iceland.
“I am most excited about whale watching,” says Carpenter, “I have never seen a whale before.”
Carpenter will be taking his older sister, Cheyenna Daigle, to Iceland as his chaperone. His younger brother, Registe, also will benefit from Carpenter’s dedication to healthy living. Carpenter was trying to earn a second bicycle for Registe but fell a few points short. Thrudur Gunnarsdottir, PhD, 5th Gear’s director, was able to make up the difference so Registe would enjoy a new bike while his brother and sister are traveling.
5th Gear Kids is funded by a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.