obesity solutions announces four winning teams for funding challenge

The Obesity Solutions Funding Challenge concluded in April, with approximately 50 diverse and high quality submissions.  Entries were judged on the proposed solution's potential impact on the obesity epidemic, team strength, innovation, and sustainability.  Of the entries, four winners were chosen: Alien Health Game, Nutritional Health Awareness, Newtrition, and Stand and Move.  Additionally, Obesity Solutions provided mentoring to a non-winning team, putting them in contact with ASU Wellness and ARAMARK in order for the team to achieve their goals, even though they did not win the funding challenge.


The first group of winners, Alien Health Game, is comprised of faculty and grad students from the ASU Embodied Learning Lab.  The group members, Mina Johnson, Hue Henry, Ken Koontz, and Kennya Rodriquez, have created a nutrition game for children that they hope will soon be available in schools and aftercare programs.


Group leader Mina Johnson explains the game as “a nutrition game that uses the Kinect sensor so that children can also exercise while having fun learning about how to feed a foundling Alien. The Alien has a body like a human’s and needs to be kept healthy, the exer-game is designed to be played either with a whole class or alone as a single player.”


Alien Health Game will be working with ASU’s Venture Catalyst from SkySong in order to launch their educational game in both Spanish and English.


The next two groups of winners, Nutritional Health Awareness and Newtrition, have been paired together along with Venture Catalyst in order for the teams to meet their common goals.


Nutritional Health Awareness (NHA) is a club on the ASU campus that is dedicated to teaching children about nutrition and exercise. The members include Katie Norris, Shovna Mishra, Shannon Wheeler, Jerry Carman, Kapila Patel, Paige Fennig, Alissa Sabatino.


Katie Norris, NHA president, states, “Our unique curriculum and mentor style teaching empowers them to make wise health decisions in the future. All of our teachers are ASU students who have a passion for spreading the message of a healthy lifestyle. We hope to impact more of the community by hosting health fairs and teaching in at-risk areas.”


Newtrition, a group of six high school freshmen from ASU Preparatory Academy, is the youngest winning team from the funding challenge. Members of The Newtrition Group included Maria Guevara, Steven Mercado, Jenesis Maldonado, Rebekah Santa Cruz, Cheyenne Tasher and Pedro Duenas. Their idea to combat obesity focuses on education for families and students on how to prepare nutritious low-cost meals and how to make healthy food choices in general. The scope of the team’s goals include offering healthy food options for students at schools as well as offering healthy cooking classes for families.  The Newtrition group plans to work with community and school leaders to achieve their goals and implement lasting programs.


The final group of winners, Stand and Move, are a team of ASU faculty, staff, and community partners with the goal of creating a healthy workplace.


Team members are Matt Buman, Kevin Buman, Stephanie Riordan, Noe Crespo, Anna Park, Monica Gutierrez, Lynn Kostel, Laura Perry, David Trippany, Maren Channer, and Jody Hanson.


Stand and Move seeks to encourage ASU faculty and staff to live healthier, more active lives. Team member Matt Buman states, “The project will equip a workplace environment of students, faculty, and staff on the downtown campus and incorporate height adjustable desks, walking workstations, and a social marketing campaign. As a collaboration between ASU College of Health Solutions, Steelcase Corporati on, and Target Interiors, this project will serve as a scalable model for other workplaces of how to take concrete steps on a large scale to improve the health and productivity of their workforce.”


Although there can only be a few winners to the Funding Challenge, Obesity Solutions seeks to help health-minded ventures get off the ground, even if they don’t ultimately win the challenge.  An example of the help that Obesity Solutions has provided is the team Exploring Obesity. The team’s idea was to provide ASU students with cooking classes and recipes that allow students to eat nutritiously with only the resources that can be found on-campus.


Obesity Solutions provided mentorship to Exploring Obesity to help them define their idea and develop a concrete plan, and then paired the team with ASU Wellness and ARAMARK, who are providing resources to implement the team’s idea on campus.


If you would like more information on the Obesity Solutions Funding Challenge, please email: obesitysolutionschallenge@asu.edu. You can also call 480-727-7579.


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