UCSD couple wins ‘Apps For Healthy Kids’ challenge and trip to the White House


A game developed at UCSD is the winner of the Popular Vote in the “Apps for Healthy Kids Challenge,” a $60,000 nationwide competition sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to fight childhood obesity.

Aaron Coleman and Jesica Oratowski-Coleman, a married couple who work for the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), developed the online game, which challenges users to select healthy foods without breaking a virtual scale. Their creation, called “Food Buster,” won the Popular Choice award in the “Game” category, beating out 95 other submissions from software developers, game designers and students from around the country in an effort to motivate children to choose healthier food options and become more physically active.

“We are thrilled to be the Apps for Health Kids popular choice winners,” said Oratowski-Coleman from Washington, D.C., where she and her husband met Sept. 29 at the White House with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and “Let’s Move!” Executive Director Robin Schepper.

“This contest represents some very forward-thinking efforts by this administration, the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative, and the USDA. We applaud the Apps For Healthy Kids contest for getting normal people like us, a husband-and-wife team, to get involved with the issue of childhood obesity.”

The duo plan to donate half of their $4,500 winnings to the San Diego Victory Gardens for an outdoor education planter box that will teach school and community groups about food origins and how to grow food. The other half of their winnings will go to Long Beach’s Centro Shalom, which distributes fresh, local and organic produce to the poor. -UCSD

Want to know more?