HealthStart Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit, will have the first in a series of digital health education games for kids available for download in time for the new school year. HealthStart and a team of volunteer “hackers” successfully built a prototype for the Monstralia: A Healthy Life For Your Little Monster game during the 2015 ATX Hack for Change.
The game uses concepts from HealthStart’s health education curriculum. Children learn healthy habits by taking care of a baby monster who happens to have the same food, fitness and emotional needs as a human child. HealthStart will release Monstralia’s Brainstorm Lagoon in the Fall.
ATX Hack for Change is Austin’s response to the National Day of Civic Hacking, a White House initiative to improve communities through innovative technology.
“HealthStart is a terrific example of why Austin is recognized as an incubator for innovation,” said Lance McNeill, a consultant with the City of Austin’s Innovation Office. “The collaboration between the ATX H4C tech volunteers and HealthStart has progressed over several years, and we’ve been gratified by the partnership’s success in engineering solutions that will tackle big issues like children’s health.”
Recent studies report over 91% of small children play video games today but unlike earlier research, these studies have found “games for good” promote learning while holding promise for building new health behaviors. This made a digital game a perfect way to spread HealthStart’s fundamentals to young children.
HealthStart returned to ATX Hack for Change in 2017. “As 2017 ATX H4C project champions, HealthStart advanced our nutrition education program with Nutribuild: Building Healthy Kids, a calculator created to minimize program costs while maximizing our reach,” said Ms. Herskowitz. “We are so grateful to the City of Austin’s Innovation Office and St. Edward’s University for the opportunity to participate in the Hack for Change and allowing us to repeat our previous success.”