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Fundraising with exergames

In cash-strapped schools, good fundraising ideas are crucial. Many schools are now being tasked to find creative ways to raise money for extras such as athletic and band uniforms, field trips, school playground equipment and classroom supplies, Physical Education programs, especially, are feeling the heat, which makes maintaining their existing program difficult and expanding their program to include exergaming almost impossible.

An elementary school on the Texas/New Mexico border, fortunate enough to already have exergaming equipment, recently put the “FUN” back into FUNdraising by using their Nintendo Wii during their annual end-of-the-year school party. What could be more innovative and effective than using exergames to raise money at an event crawling with students, parents and community members?

Hortencia Valtierra, the school’s PE teacher, set up a TV and the Nintendo Wii with the games Just Dance, Just Dance 2, Just Dance Kids and Michael Jackson the Experience available at her fundraising booth. A dance cost a ticket (each ticket was $.25) per person and song choice was up to the patron. Her booth was a favorite among the partygoers and often had a line of people waiting their turn to dance.

The school’s end-of-the-year party runs from 9am to 1pm and raises much needed money for extras that the school budget does not cover. The popularity of the exergame booth helped to raise $200 in just four hours. This surprised Valtierra, who had been using the games in her PE class and wasn’t sure if the students would be excited about having to pay for them.  She was pleased to see so many parents dancing with their children; not only did her booth bring FUN back to FUNdraising, it proved to be a great outreach experience: exposing parents and the community to healthy gaming options and introducing them to ways to get active with their children at home.

Another local school, Mesilla Elementary, also utilized their exergaming lab for fundraising purposes, offering time in their exergame lab as a reward for students’ fundraising efforts. Each year the school holds an annual “jog-a-thon” to raise much-needed funds for the school. Previously, the reward for any student reaching a certain level was a pizza party. However, because the school had the exergame lab and had recently received the new Kinect, they instead awarded two hours of unstructured activity time in the exergaming lab. The school doubled its profits compared to the previous year.


Not only did the exergaming lab help to double fundraising efforts, it helped to divert attention away from food-based rewards toward a healthier active alternative.


Making it Work

– Think about what events you can add exergaming fundraising to. School fairs, family nights, or parent–teacher conferences could be great times to set up a fundraising station with exergames.

– Pick games that will have wide appeal and are easy to follow. Dancing games like Just Dance allow for shorter play intervals that will allow you to filter folks in and out quickly and maintain their attention. They are also fairly easy to follow and good fits for the novice and advanced alike.

– Be a motivator. It’s important for you to encourage play and show players your excitement. This will encourage those playing to keep going and encourage others to give it a try.

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Funding Information

© 2013. NMSU Board of Regents. All rights reserved. This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the National Research Initiative (Grant #2008-55215-18837).

About Us

The Exergames Unlocked project includes a multi-state team of accomplished media education researchers, exercise physiologists, medical professionals and doctoral students. Contributing members are researchers in their fields and have helped launch the use of exergames as tools to combat obesity in their communities and beyond. New Mexico State University researchers and their partners have been funded to research the impact of exergames, develop specific recommendations for exergame use, and implement exergaming programs. As part of that project, this website provides access to resources based on research, sample projects, and input from the exergaming community. For more information, contact the project director: Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, Professor, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service
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Why Exergames Unlocked?

Why Exergames Unlocked? Exergames are videogames that encourage physical activity. Here, you’ll find the best and most effective exergames, as well as strategies and recommendations on using them with different audiences and in different locations.