Designing Meaningful Play: A case study involving Queen of Wheat and Elvis Pretzley

Kristin Hughes

Extended Abstract

Fitwits is a series of games and tools designed for clinicians, teachers, and parents that teach children ages 9-12 about food portions, nutrition and exercise using a positive behavioral approach. Fitwits innovative curriculum includes several interdependent settings for children and their families; it is divided into three specific phases: 1) Fitwits School Health Program, 2) Fitwits MD, and 3) Fitwits Community Game. The Fitwits model uses a community-based participatory approach whereby participants are involved in the design process, and on-going assessment, of all phases of the project.

The focus of this presentation is the front-end, qualitative design-research methods used to develop Fitwits School Health Program that is underway at several Pittsburgh Public Schools and Fitwits MD. The School Health program consists of a 20-minute presentation on portion control, nutrition and obesity-related diseases. This is followed by a memory-enhancing trivia card game that aims to translate practical health and nutrition knowledge in fun and competitively spirited ways for kids. Fitwits MD uses office tools and games to help clinicians break down barriers and engage families in obesity prevention during well-child care visits.

The development phase of the School Health Program was spent working with kids, ages 9-12, for one year in the public school system. During this time our interdisciplinary team generated ideas, developed, designed, and play-tested games about nutrition, portion, and exercise with the participants. Often these sessions resulted in a changed direction when ideas generated in our studio were not met with equal enthusiasm by our co-designers. From this we utilized the existing games and brand designed by and for the kids to create a new learning tool for physicians. This transition and expansion of the program has highlighted the value of a successful frontend design process and is worth sharing.