Today, I had the pleasure of standing with Karen McDonald from Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), and actor/producer Mark Wahlberg, a BGCA alum and lifelong supporter of the Clubs. Together we announced, as part of the celebration of the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360, that Kinect will be made available to the 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.
As I stood in Times Square with children from a local New York-based Boys & Girls Club, I witnessed the pure joy and appreciation in the faces of these happy, energetic kids who have found support and community at their local Boys & Girls Club. It reminded me that technology can have a powerful impact on not only how we work, but also how we play and interact with each other.
BGCA provides programs and services in communities across the United States – and on U.S. military bases around the world – to help America’s youth realize their full potential. The organization’s focus is on supporting children through mentorship, helping to grow their knowledge and develop new skills. It’s this mission to improve the lives of kids that led to Microsoft’s initial partnership with BGCA over a decade ago. Through programs like Club Tech, Microsoft has been helping BGCA to bring state-of-the-art technology resources, including computer hardware, software and curriculum to communities across the nation. This partnership allows Clubs to incorporate technology in every aspect of their operations to provide young people and their families with the opportunity to develop the technology skills necessary to succeed in school and the job market.
Today we’re taking our partnership with BGCA one step further, by not only helping America’s youth to be great through technology and active learning, but also by promoting new steps toward a healthy lifestyle. Kinect for Xbox 360 can track your whole body, including your arms, legs, feet and head. Kinect turns something kids already love – video games – into something that can get them up off the couch and active in a fun way. Additionally, Kinect gaming can help promote teamwork, not competition, so the more than 4 million kids reached through the network of Boys & Girls Clubs each year will be able to duck, jump, spin and spike their way to more active gameplay while also building character.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. More than 16 percent of children in the U.S. are considered obese, and children in undeserved, low-income communities are more likely to suffer from obesity and obesity-related conditions such as diabetes. BGCA has already drawn a line in the sand by naming fitness as one of their key focuses and combating this epidemic through programs like Triple Play and Wanna Play, and Xbox is providing the perfect complement to their ongoing efforts by bringing the active play of Kinect to the kids who need it the most.
Microsoft’s donation of Xbox consoles and Kinect sensors kicked off today with local New York Boys & Girls Clubs and will roll out to Clubs across the country in the coming weeks. As these Club members experience the controller-free fun of Kinect for Xbox 360, my personal hope is that they’ll experience innovative ways to play together, work together, and be active together using technology. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this important moment, and we look forward to our continued partnership with the BGCA.
More information about Kinect in Boys & Girls Clubs across the country and today’s announcement can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kinect
Corporate Vice President, Global Marketing, Interactive Entertainment Business