Our Story

Kids gym class and excercise in gymnasium

What is UrbanPlay?

UrbanPlay® is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2013 by fitness professionals dedicated to collaborating with youth to take charge of their health. Our mission is to empower youth to be active players in creating a healthier future. We certify instructors and partner with local schools, after-school programs and youth organizations to teach and promote healthy choices and active lifestyles using PLAY (think games, fitness activities and fun movement) as a vehicle for EDUCATION.

The idea for UrbanPlay originated when founder and personal trainer Shane Barnard was inquired to create a fitness program for kids in the Tenderloin After-school Program (TASP). Barnard connected with Miwa Natsuki, a colleague who was studying Kinesiology with a focus on youth education, to collaborate on the project. Barnard and Natsuki launched their first UrbanPlay program in Summer 2013. Since then, UrbanPlay has partnered with multiple schools, youth organizations, and community centers to offer UrbanPlay programming for their youth. We serve youth between ages 6 and 18.

Our Values

  1. EDUCATION | We educate about wellness, including fitness and nutrition, to equip kids with awareness, knowledge, and skills to increase their ability to create a healthier future.
  2. PLAY | We create fun and positive learning experiences through play to increase ability, intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy.
  3. PARTNERSHIP | We partner with kids to empower them to be the drivers in creating a healthier future.

Why UrbanPlay?

17% of U.S. children and adolescents (age 2-19 years) are OBESE. 15 % are OVERWEIGHT.

Our kids’ health is at a crisis. Obesity related diseases such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions and joint pains/injuries are prevalent among our youth population today.

The ROOT CAUSES of the PROBLEM: Physical Inactivity + Poor Diet

Physical inactivity and poor diet are ranked as one of the leading risk factors of death in the United States. They have been linked to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and mental disorders. Physical inactivity is the cause of 5.3 million premature deaths per year, which is comparable to the effects of smoking. The increases in usage of technology and accessibility to highly processed foods are few of the various contributing factors to the decrease in physical activity and quality of diet among our youth.

Today’s 10 year olds are the first generation expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents by five years.