Active Kids

Group: Hayat Benchenaa, Michael Albers, Didier Hilhorst (2005)

MISSION: Active kids aims to educate children in a playful way to encourage them, and their families, to get outside and enjoy the outdoors for a healthier lifestyle.

CONTEXT: The context we will focus on involves male and female children between the ages of 6 and 7 living in urban and rural environments. We have specifically been focusing on European children for this particular project. We have also been adamant about targeting the parents for this project because they are the decision makers and children at this age significantly depend on their parents.

This project aims to change the habits of kids aged 6-to-7, a target group that can still be influenced and educated to drive change, not only within themselves but also their environment, such as family and friends. Making sure kids are aware of their body and the implications of obesity at a young age is primordial.
The problem of obesity is not only rooted in each individual but additionally represents a challenge for society as a whole. Modern western cultures, and cultures all over the world are susceptible to obesity. The epidemic of obesity is now reaching proportions that make it a drain on public health spending and becoming a threat for the health care system as well as an economic liability.
The context we focused on involves male and female children living in urban and rural environments. We have specifically been focusing on European children for this particular project. We have also been adamant about targeting the parents for this project because they are the decision makers and children at this age significantly depend on their parents.


We interviewed the children in their room to make them feel more comfortable and to get a greater understanding of the child. We asked the parent and the child to describe what they saw on each card. We showed the first set of flashcards and asked the child to organize them into the activities they like and dislike. The next set of cards were then organized into healthy foods and unhealthy foods. Similar to the parent’s interview we asked the children a number of questions including, what is their favourite toy and what kinds of activities or sports they enjoy.

Educate: We interviewed three children in Milan and we learned that they all are quite knowledgeable about health. They more or less know what is healthy and what is not. The foods they hesitate to classify as healthy include cookies and sandwiches, however they know that fruits and vegetables are healthy. From this interview we realized that six year olds have a good understanding of foods and that they currently get a good education in this from their parents and at school.

Fun: Children have distinct opinions on what is fun, and changes between each individual. We met one child that is more into video games and another that is more into toys such as cars and helicopters. The girl we interviewed plays mostly with stuffed animals and some board games with her parents.
Activity: In Milan the children all lived in apartment complexes. Each apartment complex had its own garden but the children don’t spend much time there. When the children go outdoors they go to parks with their parents or nannies.

Motivation: From the interviews we realized that our assumptions about keeping six years old motivated over a long period will be difficult. The parents expressed that their children and the toys they play with change weekly.

Concept Development :

A: 1. The child gets his parent to sign up to the activekids service on the web.
2. The child does activities that are organized in the park/garden/sports centre.
3. By doing activities the child can accumulate power points according to successfull completion of the activity.
4. When the child has accumulated enough points they can exchange the points for different rewards determined by the parent.

B: After testing the experience prototype, we realized that we were concentrating on the wrong side of the service. At first we were focusing on the activity side, thinking of ways to provide incentive that would keep children active by intervening in playgrounds, parks, school yards and so on. We discovered a greater opportunity by increasing the parents involvement in the service. We decided to focus on the negotiation that occurs between the child and the parent. The parent defines the activities and how the points translate towards the rewards.

We went back to Milan where we conducted our contextual research. We did an experience prototype of the activity aspect of the service. To make the experience feasible we set up the service at a park. The park was a five minute walk away from the families house.

In the park we set up a few activities for Alex to do. We wanted to find out how he would react to the different types of activities. We included both mentally and physically challenging tasks. A giant version of the more conventional game, memory, made it a little physical. He enjoyed this game.

Before Alex arrived we hid eleven orange triangles around the park, on the slide, and on trees and then asked him to collect them within a specified time constraint. We also gave him some written math problems and questions. One of the mental tasks involved the description of a zebra, his answer was a drawing of the animal. He wasn’t as enthusiastic about sitting down and doing this, he would rather do other physical activities. After Alex collected several points we asked him if he would like to exchange some of the power points for 10 minutes of computer gaming in the park, his response was ” I am not here to play on the computer, I want to do more activities…”

This is the first iteration of our concept prototype. The metaphor for this is the pin/white board in the kitchen in many family homes. Another metaphor we used is a lock that requires a key to access the rewards. To turn on the board you need the device that holds the power points.

C: Our final concept is based around the parent subscribing to our service. The service provides a device, imago for the child and grants the parents access to our member section. Here the parent can discuss what activities their children are doing with other parents. They also get information about event, in their area. The child can choose a character for the game with which he can buy items. With these items the child creates a unique story that reflects his/her accomplishments.

D: This is an overall diagram of the stakeholders showing the flow of information and connections between different parties and actors. PARENT + ACTIVEKIDS

– The parent subscribes to activekids.

– Activekids provides tips and ideas for activitites

– Activekids has a forum and community

– Activekids provides updates on stories PARENT + FAMILY + KID

– The parent can allow family members and other care- takers of the child to give points for activity

– The points are transferd from a cell phone to the device KID + DEVICE + ACTIVEKIDS + STORY

– The kid gains points by doing activity

– With the points the child gets items to build characters

– By connecting the device (imago) to activekids (website) it generates a story based on the childs achievments.


This is where the child keeps his character, points and items that he has acquired by doing activities. When he has done the activity the parent or guardian can give the child a point by transferring it from their cell phone to the device. The child gets instant gratification after doing an activity and can straight away build on his character. If he does not have enough points he wont be able to advance in the story.

TOUCH POINT #2 (e) Signing up for the service happens from the website. There is an initial cost and after that a monthly subscription keeps the service going. The website also provides and generates the stories. There is a forum at which parents can share their experiences and ideas.

TOUCH POINT #3 (f) The parent can set up the service so that other people that take care of the child can give points. The child’s grandmother or their nanny might go to the park and give points to the child. This makes the service continious and allows it to become a lifestyle.

TOUCH POINT #4 When the child has done the activity the parents give him/her points. Now the child can buy items for their character. The child can load the new items he bought with points gained to the website. The website generates stories that develop according to how the child’s character is doing, which is a different reflection on the activities the child has accomlished. Depending on how the child performs in the activities the character develops. The story encourages exercise and pushes the child to continually buy new items. These stories and characters change every four weeks. If a child has not finished the story in the four weeks they can go on. The introduction of new stories keeps the child interested, thems of the stories change.

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