UC San Diego Couple Wins
A game developed at the University of California, San Diego, is the winner of the Popular Vote in the Apps for Healthy Kids Challenge, a $60,000 nationwide competition sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity.
UC San Diego’s Aaron Coleman and Jesica Oratowski-Coleman, a married couple who work for the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), developed the online game, which challenges users to stack foods without breaking a virtual scale. Their creation, called “Food Buster,” won the Popular Choice award in the “Game” category, beating out 95 other submissions from software developers, game designers and students from around the country in an effort to motivate children to choose healthier food options and become more physically active.
“We are thrilled to be the Apps for Health Kids popular choice winners,” said Oratowski-Coleman from Washington, D.C., where she and her husband met at the White House with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Let's Move! Executive Director Robin Schepper.
This contest represents some very forward-thinking efforts by this administration, the first lady's 'Let's Move' initiative, and the USDA,” Coleman added. “We applaud the Apps For Healthy Kids contest for getting normal people like us, a husband-and-wife team, to get involved with the issue of childhood obesity."
The duo, who are based at Calit2’s Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems, plan to donate half of their $4,500 winnings to the San Diego Victory Gardens for an outdoor education planter box that will teach school and community groups about food origins and how to grow food. The other half of their winnings will go to Long Beach’s Centro Shalom, which distributes fresh, local and organic produce to the poor.
An app called “Tony’s Plate” -- which calculate the nutritional values for a single item, an entire recipe or a full day's worth of food -- won the Popular Choice Award for the competition’s “Tools” category. In addition to the Popular Choice Awards, other winners were selected by a panel of judges that included top industry experts, such as Apple Computer Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, and Mike Gallagher, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association. The judges determined the winners based on five main criteria, including potential to impact the target audience, potential to engage and motivate target audience, and creativity and originality.
Citizen solvers like those in the teams being honored today are at the heart of the Obama Administration's commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges to solve tough problems," Chopra said. "It is because we know there are countless other Americans like them across the country whose ingenuity might otherwise be overlooked that the Obama Administration's Strategy for American Innovation specifically calls on Federal agencies to use prizes to tap our nation's top talent and best ideas, wherever they may lie."
Earlier this month, Chopra noted, the White House launched Challenge.gov, a one-stop-shop where entrepreneurs and innovators can follow in the footsteps of the Apps for Healthy Kids winners to compete for prizes and prestige by providing novel solutions to National problems, large and small.
To see a list of winners of the Apps for Healthy Kids Competition, visit www.AppsforHealthyKids.com.
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