He's Putting the Fun in Fitness

"We not only get up and active, but it also puts us in a better mood for the rest of the day," says John Dugan.  

Saverio Truglia


This teen is helping his school get healthier and happier—in a single lunch period! 

As John Dugan, 17, looked around his school cafeteria in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, he didn’t like what he saw: other students, just as stressed as he was, doing homework or zoning out on smartphones rather than connecting with each other. 

That’s when he had an epiphany: Why not use that extra time at the end of the lunch period to sneak in some calorie-burning exercises—while also having fun and blowing off steam?

John took his idea to school administrators, and they granted him permission to launch Fun Fitness Fridays, a monthly event that rallies students around an unconventional activity that gets them moving. 

“High school is so full of stress,” John says. “Fun Fitness Fridays helps provide a break in the day. People really look forward to it now.”

On the second Friday of each month, John leads activities during the four lunch periods at his school. For the kickoff event, he and a few friends organized a color run, where participants wearing white T-shirts ran a lap around the track as friends tossed colored powder at them. On another Friday, he brought in small circular nets for Spikeball, a volleyball-like team sport. And in December, he organized a game of four square.

With each activity, John hopes to expand his classmates’ definition of exercise—and to get them to focus on fun, not competition. “Kids from all different cliques take part, and you end up making new friends,” he says. “It really brings people together.”

 More Fitness Heroes 

Sarah Bair, 18 If kids can’t afford cleats, they can’t play some sports. That’s why this Maryland high school senior collects lightly used cleats to distribute to kids who dream of playing soccer.








Zione Byrd, 17, and Mercedes Simmons, 17 They raised money for a Wii so their Washington, D.C., school (there’s no gym) can play dance games at lunch.








James Hoover, 17 His program educates fellow students about health and fitness through morning announcements and trivia contests. Now it’s being expanded to his whole school district!








 The Facts That Matter: Fitness 

 1 in 3 U.S. children and teens are overweight or obese

• 92% of teens don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily

• Less than half of high school students attend physical education class in an average week

Sources1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 2. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; 3. CDC

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