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Y-MVP Teen Fitness Challenge: A Game Changer


A new component of the successful Strong Kids Card program, the Y-MVP Teen Fitness Challenge is an innovative digital game designed to stimulate teens to increase their daily levels of Moderate to Vigorous Physical activity. Adopting online game design techniques, New York City’s YMCA has created an app with a dynamic badge system that motivates, recognizes and rewards young people’s MVP levels while helping them to create life-long healthy habits.


How it works: Healthy by playing

Teens register for an eight-week Y-MVP Fitness Challenge, a training program where they engage in series of game-like physical activities delivered by a trained coach. Participants meet as a small class once a week to take on fitness “quests.” At the end of each class, they receive a fitness “mission” that they need to complete before the next meet-up. Y-MVP follows a set of lessons that are designed to teach participants knowledge and skills to develop fitness routines that work for them. Lessons are aligned with New York State and national standards on physical education.


Digital Tracking and Rewards

Program participants access the Y-MVP app to record their workout and check on their progress. As they record activities they earn digital badges that acknowledge their effort. Teens might also earn tangible rewards by completing weekly fitness missions. To successfully complete the Y-MVP Fitness Challenge, participants need to earn seven digital badges, which are earned upon the completion of activities indicated by the coach. The seven badges unlock the final Y-MVP badge.


A social fitness network

Y-MVP also capitalizes on the popularity of social media sites to promote healthy lifestyle values, and build a community of young people that values physical activity. Participants are encouraged to share their won badges and earned rewards on social media sites, while a Timeline and a Leaderboard show users accomplishments and reinforce the importance of daily physical activity.


Mindful enablers

Y-MVP is possible thanks to the conscious support of the Pepsi Co Foundation, The Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust, the Aetna Foundation and American Express. Y-MVP was tested in the spring of 2013 as a pilot program at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Y, in Brooklyn, and the Harlem Y in Manhattan. The program is currently under implementation at six Y branches (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bronx, Harlem, Park Slope Armory, Prospect Park, and West Side), with the goal of having the program functioning citywide by 2015.


1 New York City Vital Signs report. NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, December 2011 Volume 10, No. 4
2 New York City Vital Signs report. NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, October 2011 Volume 11, No. 2
3 New York City Vital Signs report. NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, October 2011 Volume 11, No. 2
4 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans


Why Y-MVP?

Y-MVP is the latest addition to the YMCA of Greater New York anti-obesity effort. 

40 Percent Icon

In New York City, 40% of elementary and middle school children1  and 27% of high school students 2 are overweight or obese.

People who are overweight or obese (children and adults) are at a higher risk to develop serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and depression.

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Living a passive lifestyle is a leading cause of obesity. Overweight and obese students are more likely than students at a healthy weight to watch television for three or more hours on an average school day.3

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day for children and adolescents.4