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President Obama Spotlights HopeLab as Model of Social Innovation

June 2009 - Redwood City, CA and Washington, D.C.
President Obama Spotlights Hopelab as Model of Social Innovation

Today President Barack Obama is expected to recognize HopeLab as an example of successful social innovation for its work to harness the power and appeal of technology to improve kids' health. HopeLab will be one of four organizations highlighted at a White House event launching the new White Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. HopeLab President and CEO Pat Christen will speak at the event taking place at 1:30 p.m. EDT in the East Room of the White House.

"We are honored to be recognized for our work by President Obama," said Pat Christen, President and CEO of HopeLab. "HopeLab's products, and the research behind them, prove that technology can be engineered to be both fun and help fight serious illnesses and improve kids health."

At the event, the President is expected to call upon Americans to support innovative, results-based organizations working to address social challenges in their communities, and to challenge philanthropies to meet or exceed the government's efforts to support these organizations and approaches. In addition to HopeLab, the President will describe the work of three other nonprofits as examples of organizations worth supporting: Harlem Children's Zone, Bonnie CLAC and Genesys Works.

HopeLab, founded by board chair Pam Omidyar, is being recognized for its groundbreaking research and development of the Re-Mission video game for teens and young adults with cancer, and its work to develop a new product called gDitty, designed to increase physical activity in 11- to 14-year-old tweens as a way to fight the effects of childhood obesity. Groundbreaking research on Re-Mission published last year in the medical journal Pediatrics showed that the video game significantly improved treatment adherence and other key health outcomes in young cancer patients. Development of a new Re-Mission game is underway, with support from Vivendi, the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation.

The gDitty product combines a wearable activity monitor for tweens that tracks and saves information about how much they're moving around. Kids upload their activity data to the gDitty website and earn points that can be redeemed for rewards. Pilot studies of a gDitty prototype show that the product increases moderate to vigorous physical activity in tweens by approximately 35%, which equates to an additional ¾ mile of running per day. HopeLab is continuing gDitty development efforts and plans to make the product broadly available, pending results of further impact research. HopeLab's work with gDitty is generously supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.