Health and wellness has its own version of Book It! with 5th Gear Kids, a wellness program launched this fall to educate Colorado’s fifth graders about food, fitness, and the balance between them. For as much as Coloradans brag about being the fittest state in the U.S. (this blogger included), the state also takes the number two spot for fastest growing for childhood obesity.

The program, created by University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, Colorado Health Foundation, and Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, helps schoolchildren pick healthier menu items at places like McDonald’s, Subway, Arby’s, and King Soopers, and get out to exercise more. The goal is to gather healthy points, like 150 points for attending a free class at 24 Hour Fitness with their family, 150 for splashing around the Beck Recreation Center, an additional 150 for being on a sports team, and 75 points for ordering healthy items off the menus at partipating restaurants. The best part for the kids, of course, is the rewards that you can earn with those playtime points. Prizes like IMAX tickets to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science or AMC theaters, admission to the Denver Zoo, a Spalding basketball, and a grand prize of a trip to Iceland is likely to motivate any kid. If competition and a little bribery is what we need to do to jumpstart their path towards healthy living, I’m all about it.

Between programs like 5th Gear Kids, Wellness Intitative’s student yoga classes, Hickenlooper’s signed Physical Activity Expectation in Schools bill, and Sticky Fingers Cooking classes, Colorado’s giving its kids lots of opportunities to explore a life of health, good food, and playtime. Now, we just need to make it stick.

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