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The “Apps for Healthy Kids” Envelope, Please

Suspense is building in advance of tomorrow’s highly anticipated awards ceremony for the “Apps for Healthy Kids” challenge, where the winners of $60,000 in prizes will be announced for newly created digital games and apps that best empower and inspire kids to eat healthy and get moving.

The Challenge—sponsored by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and launched in March by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity—attracted nearly 100 entries from students, software designers, game developers, and independent entrepreneurs living and working in states all across the country. The games and apps they developed incorporate USDA nutritional information into entertaining digital adventures designed to inspire kids and their parents to follow healthier lifestyles.

Along the way, the challenge inspired the coordination of “game jams” in cities across the country, including George Mason University where I had the pleasure of kicking off the jam. Students and faculty joined in the spirit of collaboration to share ideas and test prototypes. The owners of built a platform of sorts where tweens and others could test-drive each other’s apps and games; and a huge community of supporters emerged to add enthusiasm and momentum to this healthful cause.

If you have any doubt about how much this challenge has captured the Nation’s attention and imagination, just look at the lineup for tomorrow’s ceremony, to be held on the White House complex, which will feature Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs; USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; the Executive Director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, Robin Schepper; former Redskins Super Bowl champion running back Brian Mitchell; and yours truly as emcee.

So congratulations in advance to all those who stepped up to the Apps for Health Kids Challenge, and may the best App win! Then stay tuned for more: Many are already gearing up for the next challenge—the Recipes for Healthy Kids challenge.

Aneesh Chopra is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy