My name is Marisa Langford and I am the founder of Fit Kids Playground.
I launched Fit Kids Playground in January 2008 as an event that was to be held the following year. The concept was simple. Healthy vendors. Active activities. Live music. Lots of kids and families! I had attended a healthy and wellness event for women and thought that something similar might be so much fun for my kids! I knew that when I took my then 4 year old son to “kids events” he was typically bored! So why not create an event where all there is to do is active things! So the first Fit Kids Playground event was held in June of 2009 in Hyde Park Village.
When I began approaching the community about the event, most often times the response was “This is such a great idea! We would love to get involved!” We had healthy snacks, live music, a DJ playin’ fun dancing music, bubbles and of course activities! But not just baloon animals and face painting… kids yoga, kids hip hop, a dance contest and so much more! We also became affiliated in 2009 with We Can!, an organization to help communities learn about getting active, eating healthier and how to reduce screen time. Our local and national sponsors for our first event included Greenwise Publix, MORE Health, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lifestyle Family Fitness, Yogani, Baby Loves Disco, Sports Illustrated for Kids, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Pirates Booty, Harbour Island Athletic Club and many more!
Kids didn’t want to leave when the event ended. It was a huge success with over 500 kids and families that came our to support a movement we were happy to launch in Tampa! Parents came to get their kids active and were also able to educate themselves on activities for their children that were in the area! We also have a Nutrition Alley in which kids and parents were able to sample some healthy snacks, fruits and vegetables! The event was a success and the next annual event was held in Hyde Park Village in November 2010.
Fast forward to March 2013. Over the past 2 years we have successfully reached over 20,000 kids and families through our Fit Kids Playground events and our numbers continue to climb! We have secured over $10,000 through national grant funding that has gone directly back into our free community events. We have amazing partners like the City of Tampa, the Tampa Downtown Partnership, Humana, Harbour Island Athletic Club and Whole Foods to launch monthly events that will reach more families in the Tampa Bay area on a now monthly basis. Healthy habits like playing and eating right should constantly be reinforced and with monthly events where these behaviors are found, we hope to help more parents become educated about how to start thinking healthy at home, what activities are available in our city to get kids active. We work with the local sports teams in the area to promote their community programs and we LOVE having them come out too! We also want kids to walk away thinking that getting healthy is fun! They will want to come back the next month to have more fun with us and our partners!
I personally, use a common sense approach to teaching my kids about eating healthy and living healthy lives. I am raising 3 kids in America, among the millions of fast food chains and unhealthy choices that lie at every activity during their days. I get it. I understand that parents really want to teach their children how to eat healthy or exercise, but they too have struggles doing so.
So this is why I wanted to do something in Tampa to get kids up and off the couch. That’s what I do. I think. I brainstorm for fun. I come up with ideas that are really good. And this idea is by far, one of my best. Welcome to my world. Welcome to Fit Kids Playground, where we really can make a difference with real kids. Our motto is: Real Kids. Real Change. Really Simple.
Life is crazy, but that’s how life is when you have kids. It’s fun. It’s chaotic. You understand because you too are a parent. It’s the most rewarding job in the world. And on top of the million and one jobs titles we hold as parents, we must not forget that teaching our children, EVERYTHING, is by far the most important. Come and have fun with other parents and let’s get our kids healthy together!
Teaching your kids healthy habits is not always easy. Finding activities that are fun ways for kids to exercise is also not that easy. Each city in America has so many fun things to do that more people should take advantage of activities that encourage kids to get active. Each city is a playground. I hope that you might feel the same way about healthy kids. Let’s work together to get our kids healthy the simple way…through education, play and fun!
I hope that you will sign up for our blog or click here to listen to a recent pod cast on BlogTalk Radio where I give you the heads up on what we have in store for Fit Kids Playground in the years to come! Thank you for making a commitment to your children’s future through our events! We hope to see you at the Playground!
Peas and Carrots,
Founder, Fit Kids Playground
Mother of 4