The fall Healthy Futures Challenge kicked off in 187 elementary schools across Alaska on September 1st.

The new Challenge comes with three primary changes that we hope will improve accessibility, simplicity and effectiveness.

1. Activity logs now represent a month rather than a 4-week block. Students must complete at least 15 days of 60 minutes of physical activity per month for a successful Challenge.

Why the change: Tracking by the month should be simpler, and changing to 60 minutes of activity aligns better with the CDC and Play Every Day recommendations. We are eliminating the activity log goal of 30 minutes of physical activity outside of the school day and replacing that with 60 minutes of physical activity in total for the day. Students will remain fully responsible for completing their activity log — regardless of where the activity occurs.

2. The schools with the three highest rates of participation in each population category will now receive a banner rather than a cash prize.

Why the change: Often the winning schools are from demographic areas that have highly engaged and supportive families and children that tend to be physically active. We still want to recognize the schools with the greatest student participation, but instead of a grant, they will receive a banner to hang.

3. We will continue to hold a drawing among all schools that achieve at least 20% participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge. However, we will now award a $200 prize to 25 schools that meet this criteria. The money must be used to purchase educational materials or equipment that supports student physical activity.

Why the change: With smaller increments, prize money can be distributed equitably and all schools that qualify will have an equal chance of winning the prize.