Jim Baugh, CEO and founder of PHIT America, hands out flyers with startling statistics. Among them is the 2020 UNICEF report ranking America last among 38 countries when it comes to the physical health of children. “There’s a pandemic that no one talks about—
an inactivity pandemic,” Baugh says.
In 2013, the Jupiter resident (and retired president of Wilson Sporting Goods) founded PHIT America to bring fun physical activity programs into schools. To date, the organization has launched in more than 1,500 schools nationwide and impacted more than 850,000 children.
PHIT America is currently in 15 schools throughout Palm Beach County, including eight in Jupiter. At Jupiter Farms Elementary School, physical education teacher Nicole Kola has seen a great response from her kids who participate in PHIT America’s AMPED program, which combines running and walking with music, a fitness tracker, and rewards, as well as a brain-training program to teach eye-hand coordination. “The kids love it,” she says. I had a few kids run a 5K this year, and one of my fifth graders has logged 75 miles since October.”
Two years ago, Allamanda Elementary School in Palm Beach Gardens was the first county school to implement the AMPED program, which rewards kids for running by providing a QR code they scan after each lap around the track. “When students hit a milestone, they earn a charm to add to their running necklace,” explains Allamanda PE teacher Sean Glynn. “Physical education is an area of critical need for the health of our youth due to more and more students leading sedentary lives.”
Interested schools can apply for a PHIT America grant, and the AMPED program is fully funded by donations from athletic brands such as Nike and Adidas as well as local donors like Nick & Johnny’s Osteria in Juno Beach. Baugh hopes to have the program in 25 county schools by the end of the year