John Gordon, a former actuary, is hoping for enough votes by Aug. 14 to bring national attention to a computer game he developed to help children make better food choices.
While he won't be able to make any money from the game, called "Revolting Vegetables," if he wins the initiative by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he's more excited about motivating children and tackling the growing problem of childhood obesity. The win could also bring national attention to Chattanooga.
"Revolting Vegetables" is the only application submitted from Tennessee, which recently tied for second place as the most obese state in the nation. Two out of every five Tennessee children is either overweight or obese.
"I take nutrition very seriously," said Mr. Gordon, 35, who has a two-year-old daughter with wife Patricia. "Children do not realize their food choices today are limiting the quality and length of their lives."
Chattanooga's Department of Education, Arts and Culture has similar concerns and is partnering with the game builder as part of its own current health efforts. EAC is launching a community-wide roundtable in September called "Cafeteria Conversations" to address the fact that the current generation of children have a life expectancy below that of their own parents. The roundtable is just the beginning.
"This is the moment for change," said Missy Crutchfield, department administrator. "Cafeteria Conversations harkens back to sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement and conversations that sparked change. Students have the opportunity to talk about the issues, to ask questions, to provide answers, and to act on healthy choices, starting today.”
Mr. Gordon's game, "Revolting Vegetables," is free. Leaders are asking the public to visit www.appsforhealthykids.com and vote for the game. As of July 29, 600 additional votes could catapult Mr. Gordon's game into first place.
After noticing the national contest in March, Mr. Gordon worked full time with his wife Patricia and two friends, Donny Palmgren and Michael Torres, to create the game in three months. It was a first game for any of them, and he had to learn some programming language on his own to complete it.
"This was an opportunity I could not pass up," Mr. Gordon said. "I hope Tennesseans will answer the call to volunteer to fight for their children's health."
While playing "Revolting Vegetables," the player must track down a mobster, Al Capoche, who is making all of the vegetables in town come to life. The game has a 1920's feel and is modeled after "The Untouchables." Players advance by eating a balanced diet -- without consuming too many calories.
Only players who buy and eat the right balance have the strength to overcome enemies. Mr. Gordon admits it might not be the most polished piece on the market. However, "its a unique, fun game that will engage kids and teach them better habits," he said.
Mr. Gordon and his game is one of several partners with the EAC's i-Vote Campaign, which is helping to create the upcoming discussions on health in area schools among students and health leaders. Game winners will be honored at an award ceremony in Washington D.C.
For more information on the contest or to download the game, visit revoltingvegetables.com. For more information about EAC's initiatives, call Melissa Turner at 423 425-7826 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 423 425-7826 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.