Fun, Fly, & Fit

Fun, Fly & Fit is an acclaimed, results-focused program that motivates children to play, exercise and have fun. Developed by United Way of the National Capital Area, Fun Fly & Fit has scored remarkable successes throughout Metropolitan Washington. Its goal is simple yet powerful: To get kids so enthused about physical fitness and nutrition that their attitudes and behaviors soar.

As public health officials warn that one in three American children is now overweight or obese, United Way of the National Capital Area offers an exciting youth fitness program with a solid track record in reshaping attitudes and behaviors. Fun Fly & Fit is a thoughtful, evidence-based response to the national epidemic of childhood obesity.

Fun Fly & Fit is accessible to all communities because it's self-sustaining and adaptable. Fun Fly & Fit has been successfully implemented in more than 50 schools and other program venues. It can easily be implemented as an in-school program or in after school sites.

Our Mission

The mission of Fun, Fly & Fit is to provide a solid foundation for children to make the right life choices to keep them healthy, have fun, and improve their self-image. To do that, we will:

Including parents, caregivers, teachers and other individuals who are able to reach and influence children is a key part of achieving success.

History

Started in 2009, Fun, Fly & Fit began with a pilot program in seven D.C. schools. The plan was simple yet innovative. Get to kids where they are, at their schools, and get them moving.

Over the next year we launched 18 new sites in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County, MD and Loudoun County, VA and began creating a lot of buzz around the community. BET partnered with United Way NCA to include Fun, Fly & Fit in their first Girls Health Summit. Washington Redskins defensive end André Carter and his wife Bethany promoted the program, even leading a group of kids through an NFL-style workout. The following year the Redskins linked up again with Fun, Fly & Fit as part of the national NFL-United Way partnership, Hometown Huddle, bringing players to eight program sites to exercise with the kids.

As the program got more notice, it increased in demand. In the summer of 2010 the DC Department of Health gave a huge endorsement by providing a two-year grant and selecting Fun, Fly & Fit as the fitness program for eight DC recreation centers. In its second year, Fun, Fly & Fit was in 55 sites in DC and Northern Virginia and had added an assembly program to inspire even more children to live healthy, reaching more than 10,000 elementary school students. 

In 2012 the U.S. Department of Education awarded United Way NCA the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant. This three-year, $1.2 million grant, provided funding for United Way NCA to implement Fun, Fly & Fit at 16 Title-I schools in Prince George’s County, MD.

A major focus of Fun, Fly & Fit (FFF) was to increase the number of minutes that children and youth are physically active in and out of school. FFF was successful in achieving this goal! Participants spent an average of 80 minutes in “play” (unstructured exercise) and 80 minutes in “activity” (structured exercise) for a total of 543,930 minutes in play and 543,930 minutes in activity during the 2014-2015 FFF school year. This is a major accomplishment, given it was estimated that prior to FFF, students spent only 50 - 75 minutes in play or activity per week. The increase was on an average of 160 minutes in play and activity per week.

In addition, participants in FFF used pedometer logs to track the number of steps and miles they walked. At the onset of the program, many students did not engage in 60 minutes of physical activity per day. By using pedometers to track steps and miles, FFF was able to increase the number of participants who participated in “brisk walking activities,” which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers moderate to vigorous physical activity. In addition, the same participants completed nutrition logs and were able to improve the number of participants who ate fruit two or more times a day and vegetables three or more times a day to 100%.

The participants also tracked physical activities such as shuttle runs, jumping jacks, and lap time, over multiple six-week cycles. In each case, students improved their skills and abilities in each area, thereby improving their overall cardiovascular fitness.

In addition to providing direct services to youth, FFF provided training to school site PE teachers and associated staff in curricula delivery and equipment usage, while also providing each site with the tools, supplies, and support necessary to continue programming – ultimately creating a fully sustainable fitness and nutrition program at each targeted site for after school programming.

Partners

Fun, Fly & Fit would not be possible without the support of our partners. United, we can help improve the health of kids around the national capital area.

Healthy Solutions
HOPSports
Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
Nu-You Wellness and Fitness
SPARK
Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation

To find out how you can sponsor Fun, Fly & Fit, please contact Erica Russell at (202) 488-2035 or erussell@uwnca.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fun, Fly & Fit?
Fun, Fly & Fit is an acclaimed, results focused program that motivates children to play, exercise and have fun. Developed by United Way of the National Capital Area, Fun Fly & Fit has scored remarkable successes throughout Metropolitan Washington. The goal is simple yet powerful: to get kids so enthused about physical fitness and nutrition that their attitudes and behaviors soar.

What is the target age Fun, Fly & Fit is trying to reach?
Previously Fun, Fly & Fit has been geared toward elementary school age children, specifically pre-kindergarten through fifth graders. As part of our focus on middle school success and on-time high school graduation, we are expanding the initiative to improving health outcomes by addressing childhood obesity prevention and reduction in middle school age children.

What is the goal of the program?
The goal of Fun, Fly & Fit is to create a fundamental shift in the way children, and their caregivers, think about health and wellness.

Who can run Fun, Fly & Fit?
Fun, Fly & Fit can be adopted by schools, afterschool program sites, community centers or any organization that works with elementary or middle-school-age kids. The program capacity is limited only by the available financial resources we receive and we continue to generate new support from companies, individuals, government and civic organizations.

Why is this such an important issue?
The latest data show that nationally, 1 out of every 6 children is obese and almost 1 in 3 is overweight. In parts of our region that rate is even higher. It’s no secret that kids who are healthy have more energy, but they also perform better at school.
Kids that develop healthy habits are less likely to smoke or do drugs and are more likely to engage in positive activities. Developing wholesome habits early on sets kids up for a lifetime of healthy living.

How did United Way NCA come to take up this particular cause?
United Way of the National Capital Area is evolving into a more hands-on problem solver, adding impact driven programs to help improve our community. We worked with local leaders to identify childhood obesity and youth fitness as a major issue in our region. We then collaborated with experts in fitness, education and nutrition to offer Fun, Fly & Fit as a robust and effective initiative to combat this crisis.

Fun, Fly & Fit has been running now for almost six years. How has it been received?
The response has been tremendous. The kids, their parents and the host sites all love the program. Since then demand has been tremendous.

What are people saying about Fun, Fly & Fit?
Teachers are saying that when the kids come back to class the day after one of their workout session, Fun, Fly & Fit is all they talk about.

Is the program generating results?
The immediate impact is really promising. The kids are definitely getting excited about exercise, and their post program assessment show many have lost weight, gained strength and endurance and understand more about nutrition.

More importantly, they are learning that health is accessible, easy and fun!

Do sites have to pay to get Fun, Fly & Fit?
Fun, Fly & Fit is funded by grants and  sponsorships from private and public funding sources. The availability of the program to sites is contingent on the available funding and the specifications of the grant agreements. Contact United Way NCA to see if the program is available.

How can I get Fun, Fly & Fit to my school or youth center?
Parents can advocate at their kids’ schools or afterschool programs to adopt the program.