As those impassioned New Year’s Resolutions to get in shape start to lose steam this third week of January, we thought we’d try to rekindle your muscle-bound moxie with a story about a project that put the IDEAS team to the ultimate creative workout.
Around 2010, the United States was in the midst of what some were calling a childhood obesity crisis. The rate of unhealthily overweight children soared at nearly one-third of the population. Simultaneously, school systems around the country were cutting recess and physical education for elementary-age children, limiting their chance for activity at school. While parents, educators, food companies and mass media all volleyed blame back and forth, the IDEAS team was already knee-deep in development of a multi-faceted project that would introduce physical activity and health awareness into the lives of children everywhere.
Adventure to Fitness was more than just a project to our team, it was a mission to immerse children in a healthy lifestyle in way that was as entertaining as it was educational. Spearheaded by the Adventure to Fitness Network, a New York-based group of educators, IDEAS was brought on to create and produce branded 30-minute video activities for a kindergarten through fifth grade audience. The goal was to package health education, physical activity and quality storytelling into a format that would not only engage kids at school, but inspire better lifestyle choices at home. We hoped to deliver a program that would get kids up and active – IN the classroom – while they were being taken on fantastic LEARNING adventures.
IDEAS solution was a television-style serial that put a live action host in an animated world of adventure. In the show, friendly fitness guide Mr. Marc takes his viewers on whimsical journeys across the globe as they ran, leapt and rowed in chase of the dastardly Mr. Lazy. The show’s story combined physical activity and health education with lessons about geography, social studies, science, language arts and health. This allowed teachers to base a full day of lesson plans around one episode of Adventure to Fitness. After Storyjamming the show’s premise and some solid concepts for episodes, the IDEAS team scripted, storyboarded and brought Adventure to Fitness to the small screen providing shooting, animation, editing, audio, duplication and production management services.
Mary Anne Metaxas, IDEAS VP of Media Production, was the production lead on Adventure to Fitness. She recalls one time where the project required some members of our team to take the spotlight as actors:
“When we made the decision to add the sound of “kids/viewers” voices (for call and response with host or emphasis of action)… the fastest method was for me to record the female IDEAS employees’ voices. Once they were mixed in, they sounded like children. We had a standard mix of stock words and phrases we would use in every episode that we recorded and kept, but also recorded original audio for each particular episode. Myself and the sound effects editor would spot the episode once it was strung together and come up with phrases to record, then go onto the insert stage with 5-7 people huddled in a semi-circle around a mic and record them straight to our audio bay.”
While our creative and production teams were busy making the onscreen magic, our instructional design team thoroughly reviewed Adventure to Fitness’ content to check it against state and national educational curricula. In addition, the team developed comprehensive guides and print materials for both teachers and parents that explain what the series is teaching their youngsters.
By the project’s end, IDEAS had produced two full seasons of Adventure to Fitness. The show introduced daily physical activity into the lives of 2 million elementary-aged children in 3,500 hundred schools across 48 states. The series and accompanying materials were made available completely free to teachers, parents and school systems.
In 2011, the Florida Motion Picture & Television Association honored IDEAS with three of its prestigious Crystal Reel Awards for its work on Adventure to Fitness. The series took home awards for Best Sound in a TV Series, Best Graphic Design in a TV series and Best Overall TV Series. Most rewarding of all was accomplishing our mission to make a positive difference in the well-being of children everywhere. If you want to check out more of our work on this groundbreaking project, visit our friends at Adventure 2 Learning.
Hopefully, our tale of dedication and hard work has inspired you to press on in your New Year’s fitness goals!