BOSTON and HARTFORD, Conn. and PORTLAND, Maine, April 8, 2019 – On Saturday, 30 lucky children from YMCAs around New England gathered at the Celtics Auerbach Center in Brighton, Mass., for the grand finale event of the fifth annual Sun Life Fit to Win program.
Players Marcus Smart, Rob Williams and R.J. Hunter each led a team of kids in an interactive game where they had to Feel, Taste and Whiff (Fit to Win) different fruits and vegetables, then guess the ingredient. Later on, the players took on the kids in a game of dodgeball, and then talked to them about staying fit and healthy in everyday life.
“No nutritional setup is one size fits all,” Hunter advised the kids. “Keep trying healthy foods and find what works for you.”
Fit to Win is a four-week program every winter hosted by the Greater Boston, Greater Hartford and Southern Maine YMCAs. Kids from grades 3 through 6 get special tracking sheets where they record their fitness and healthy living activities, such as push-ups, jumping jacks, limited screen time, and choosing water over soda or juice.
“I love watching the players engage with these kids about exercise and nutrition, and it’s such a great way to get kids excited about health and fitness,” said Neil Haynes, CFO of Sun Life Financial U.S. and board member of the YMCA of Greater Boston. “It’s so important to instill these values in children. The Fit to Win program shows that when you challenge kids to be healthier, they really embrace it.”
Since the start of the program five years ago, over 900 YMCA youth in Boston; Hartford, Conn.; and Portland, Maine, have participated in Fit to Win. This year, more than 250 kids ate over 22,000 servings of fruits and vegetables, drank one or less sugary drink each day for over 5,500 days and logged over 100,000 minutes of vigorous physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day. After the end of the four-week tracking period, 30 “star performers” – 10 from each region – were chosen to attend the finale event in Brighton and engage with the players.
Sun Life and the Celtics partner on programs that promote health and wellness for the community, focusing on healthy living and diabetes awareness and prevention. Each November – Diabetes Awareness Month – they hold the #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes campaign, which raises money for the YMCA of Greater Boston’s Diabetes Prevention Program. To date, the #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes campaign has raised nearly $400,000.
Sun Life Fit to Win will return in early 2020.