September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, reminding Americans that instilling physical activity and healthy eating habits among our nation's youth is important. National Dairy Council (NDC), Midwest Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL) are kicking off the third year of Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school health and wellness program that encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity every day. It has activated more than eight million students in 70,000 schools nationwide, including 10,000 Midwest schools to be healthy, get active and make a difference.

NDC, Midwest Dairy and the NFL are committed to making children's health a nationwide priority by motivating students to take charge of their own wellness. As a demonstration of this commitment, Midwest Dairy Council awarded $507,728 to 194 schools in their 10-state territory during the 2010-2011 school year to help them jump-start and champion school wellness efforts.  This fall NDC, Midwest Dairy and the NFL are encouraging more students and schools to make positive healthy changes by getting involved in Fuel Up to Play 60.

Fuel Up to Play 60 was launched by NDC, local dairy councils and the NFL in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture in 2010. Together with the involvement of multiple supporting health and nutrition organizations – Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association – the program plans to further its progress by expanding its reach and impact in the years to come.

As part of Fuel Up to Play 60, schools can receive a free Quick Start Resources kit with planning tools and in-school collateral materials to help them implement healthy eating and physical activity "Plays" to spark positive wellness change in their schools. These materials also are available at

Students have the opportunity to participate in a series of three Fuel Up to Play 60 Challenges this school year, and a bonus Challenge in the summer, that help educate and motivate them to showcase their talents and collaborate with their peers through Fuel Up to Play 60. The first Challenge, which launched on August 22 and runs through October 10, is the Back to School, Back to Football Challenge. It is designed to encourage students to get their school and friends excited about Fuel Up to Play 60 by creating a poster or video or planning a pep rally to inspire a healthy start to the new school year.

"We're excited to start another school year with Fuel Up to Play 60. The program allows youth the opportunity to take control of their own health and work toward making their school environment healthier with their friends," says Melissa Young, director of Health and Wellness for Midwest Dairy Council. "Our Fuel Up to Play 60 Back to School, Back to Football Challenge is about encouraging others to get involved, and the new school year offers a great chance for kids to complete the Challenge and jump-start the program in their schools."  

As youth go through the program, they are encouraged to consume nutrient-rich foods, including low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The ultimate goal is to ensure changes made at school are sustainable, and to provide children with more opportunities to be physically active and choose nutrient-rich food.

To learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60 and to sign up for the 2011-2012 program, visit or