Two Birds, One Fitness Band: Introducing the Kid Power Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers like the FitBit and Apple Watch can be great for health-conscious individuals dedicated to monitoring their steps on a daily basis, but even if they’re effective in helping one reach their fitness goals, it’s unlikely that anyone would go so far as to say their fitness tracker makes them feel inspired or gives them a sense of purpose. Self-motivation is tough, especially for children who have not yet learned the values of self-discipline and goal-setting. If you’re a frustrated parent tired of bribing your child to get off the couch and play outside, then you may want to slip a Kid Power Fitness Tracker into their stocking next Christmas- or before that, if possible- the sooner the better!

The Kid Power Fitness Tracker, developed by Unicef and sold at Target, is aptly named because it gives kids the power to feed malnourished children around the world, while taking charge of their own health as well. Here’s how it works: much like a traditional fitness tracker, this wearable encourages exercise by keeping track of steps, but it goes one step further and translates steps into food donations to hungry children. So the tracker accomplishes two things at once: promoting healthier lifestyles for sedentary children (one in four kids in the U.S. are considered sedentary) while combating global hunger and malnourishment (one in four kids in the world are malnourished).

According to Fast Company, children using the wearable have already donated more than five million packets of food to over 30,000 malnourished kids- and the tracker only recently reached the mainstream market! It was introduced as a pilot program in October 2014 to low-income schools based in Sacramento, California. The Kid Power program quickly caught on, spreading to thousands of other schools, and now it’s sold separately in Target stores. Sponsors such as Target and Star Wars also help fund donations and the in-app “missions,” which have an additional cost.

The results and the reception to the fitness tracker have been overwhelmingly positive. Independent studies on the fitness tracker have found that children in the program, many of whom belong to low-income families, are 55% more active each day than kids who use a regular fitness tracker and met their daily activity goals 30% more often. Additionally, testimonials praise the fitness tracker for giving their kids more energy and social responsibility. One mother said, “My kid already has the energy of a thousand suns- now we get to transfer it to kids around the world in the form of the nutrition they desperately need.”

According to Sven Newman, a strategizer and designer for the app, the most compelling feature of the app is not the typical game elements it features, such as badges and social feedback, but “a sense of higher purpose.” The fitness app includes videos of the children who receive the donations as they go about their daily lives. The visual element of seeing who the donations support has proved to be a powerful motivator. “Just creating that human connection ended up really being a powerful motivator,” said Newman.

While the Kid Power Fitness Tracker is still a fairly new innovation, so it remains to be seen just how successful it will prove to be in the long term, there is no denying (based on its current success) that fitness and philanthropy are great on their own but even better when you put them together. It will be exciting to see the full potential of this incredible invention!