VERB Summer Scorecard
Anita Courtney, director of health promotion, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, 650 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY 40508, (859) 288-2350
When school dismisses for the summer in Fayette County, it’s time for pre-teens to think about their score on a different kind of card—one that keeps track of physical activity with a focus on fun.
The VERB Summer Scorecard offers young people, ages 9-13, free or discounted admission to a variety of locations where they can get some exercise and enjoy themselves as well. The sites include public pools and bowling alleys as well as less traditional activities like laser tag games. Each visit means a stamp on the 24-square scorecard.
Children don’t need to make a special outing to get credit for being physically active, though. A simple walk in the park also counts. Parents initial the card for each hour their child is physically active, up to 12 hours.
Once all of the squares on the card are stamped or initialed, the child is eligible for a prize drawing at the grand finale event at summer’s end.
The VERB program was launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002 as a national media campaign to get the so-called “tweens” to think of exercise as a cool activity at a time in their lives when they are becoming more sedentary. The CDC hopes the program will combat rising levels of obesity among young people. The Fayette County program was the first local initiative in response to the national VERB campaign and has involved more than 2,000 children. Other Kentucky counties, including Wolfe County, are following its lead.
Organizers make Lexington’s grand finale, held at Applebee’s Park, as much fun as the activities leading up to it, with disc golf, hopscotch, and a radar run, where police officers check how fast kids can run. Children who have completed their VERB scorecards also enjoy a victory lap around the bases.