By Nicholas Walz
Nickelodeon’s 2011 Worldwide Day of Play (WWDOP) on Sept. 24 took over Washington, D.C., with a sports and games spectacle in the shadow of the White House and Washington Monument, with the USTA providing a large forum for tennis play with SmashZone Mobile. The inflatable 10 and Under Tennis caravan attracted hundreds of kids and some big-name celebrities, including basketball All-Stars LeBron James and Chris Paul. Partnering with Nickelodeon, the popular kids TV network, the USTA demonstrated its ongoing commitment to ensuring our nation’s youth lead healthy and positive lifestyles through physical activity.
The WWDOP celebration in Washington served as an all-encompassing kids’ activity expo, with Major League Baseball, the National Football League and US Youth Soccer among the sporting bodies offering activities for the youngsters in attendance. Sprinkled into the day were appearances from the casts of Nick shows such as “iCarly,” “Victorious,” “True Jackson VP,” “Supah Ninjas” and “Bucket & Skinner’s Epic Adventures,” along with musical performances by Fresh Beat Band and Big Time Rush.
First Lady Michelle Obama appeared to the live audience via satellite on the main stage area just a few feet from SmashZone, urging kids to turn off their televisions for the day and enjoy a break from the couch or computer chair. Obama heads the “Let’s Move!” campaign and is a spokesperson for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and PALA—President’s Active Lifestyle Award—Challenge to stay active for 60 minutes per day, five days per week, for six out of eight weeks.
Primarily through the USTA’s National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network, more than 226,000 kids have participated in and completed the PALA Challenge—more than any other youth sports organization in the United States.
“The President Active Lifestyle Award is about getting kids and parents to understand how easy it is to have some fun, but also to be fit. It is really aimed at ending childhood obesity in our generation,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Our goal was to have a million PALA challenges met by this year, and we are really pleased to say we have almost 1.7 million, thanks to great partners and great organizations. It’s a great partnership to have the USTA involved.”
“We organized and mobilized our entire youth efforts,” said Barry Ford, USTA Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy. “From our NJTL chapters, to our USTA Jr. Team Tennis teams and up on through our Community Tennis Associations, everyone got on board and challenged our kids. They exceeded our expectations, for sure.”