Heather Parisi learnt much from the significant challenges she faced at an early age. Her experience has lead her to help thousands of children around the world to have fun, whilst keeping fit! Durtti wants Heather to reveal how she convinces 21st Century children to take a much needed time out from their mobile electronic devices.
You broke your leg whilst competing as a National gymnast at the age of 12. The injury left you with a curvature and discrepancy in the length of your legs. What effect did this disability have on your future school life Heather?
When I broke my leg I had no idea the impact and effect it was going to have on my life. Gymnastics was my entire life. It was everything I woke up for and everything I knew. My whole life revolved around when I was going to the gym, when the next competition was and staying focused on the end result of being the best gymnast I could be.
When I broke my leg, everything changed.
I spent most of my 8th grade year at home with tutors and then entered 9th grade as every other HS Student. The difference for me was that I felt like an outcast and like the new kid in school. It was a very difficult and traumatic time trying to figure out who I was without gymnastics. I was teased and bullied and found myself never really feeling as though I fitted in.
What motivated you to create the highly successful board games Bakari and Flip2BFit?
It was just before I turned 40 that I noticed a distinctive change in my body and how my body was reacting to exercise. It just wasn’t maintaining the same way as previous years and I knew I had to do something about it. Always being a fitness enthusiast, a competitive athlete and someone that had a good sense of nutritional foods and healthy eating, I started paying much closer attention to what was going on around me.
Childhood obesity was all over the news and it was affecting over 15% of today’s children under the age of 6 and more than 30% of children up to the age of 18.
It was this that truly triggered a spark and lead me to create Flip2BFit.
Always loving card and board games as a kid, I first started off by flipping cards with different exercises on them to assure my routine was mixed up. While this was effective, I myself was getting bored and I couldn’t even get my niece and nephew to play with me. They just didn’t understand why they needed to do an activity just because a card was flipped over.
They were right. They needed a reason and a motivation.
What better way to motivate someone to do something than to give them a chance to WIN! Hence – A board game combining fitness and nutrition was born.
Can you tell us more about your father’s involvement in the business you have built?
My dad has been an integral and very special part of Flip2BFit.
With his creativity as an artist and his education background, he has been able to provide me with feedback and guidance as to the games’ effectiveness in education as well as to take the vision that I had for the look of the game and create the reality of the final product.
From the development of Springer and all his dinosaur friends to the fun game park that the game takes place in, it’s my dad’s creative vision that has brought it all to life.
You are also the Founder of the Fitness For Africa charity organization. How did that idea come about and what is it’s main aim?
Fitness For Africa is a calling that has lived within me since I was a child.
As one girl, I travelled to Africa several times looking for the answer as to what was drawing me there. It was during a vacation to Uganda that that calling was answered.
I met a child survivor of the LRA – Kony Rebels. I was forever changed and touched by his survival story and the stories of thousands of others that went through the same ordeal. It was then that I knew what I was put here to do – Provide the power of knowledge and education, assuring that a healthy lifestyle was within reach.
It’s a belief that everyone has the right to live a healthy lifestyle no matter what economic or socio-economic status they live within. They just need to be provided with the knowledge so that they can make an educated decision.
The best way to assure that this knowledge is clear is to start with the youngest members of the community.
Opening Pearl of Hope Nursery and Primary School was a dream come true in February 2013.
With a simple bamboo hut, my school opened to bring in 30 young children aged 3 to begin their journey of education and being literate and viable members of their community. I truly believe that the power of education, being able to read and write is the core to assuring that all those that I touch become viable members of their community and have the ability to make an informed decision, whether about local politics or the foods that they cook and eat.
Knowledge is power!
Are you developing any new fitness products at present that you can tell us about?
I’m always thinking ahead for Flip2BFit and where the company will go forward to. I believe it’s important to continuously bring new products to the market so that children and families I touch with Flip2BFit or Bakari can continue on their fitness and health journey with me.
I have a toddler fitness game coming out in 2016 as well as a nutrition game and then a variety of new products that will continue to enhance and engage families and children of all ages for years to come.
I’m really very, very excited about the future for Flip2BFit and all that is happening right now!
If you could create and enforce one law in America, what would it be?
Creating laws needs to be left to Government and politicians.
I’m just one girl that wants to open minds to health, fitness and the purity of living a life that makes you smile each day you open your eyes to enjoy another 24 hours of happiness.
Through this, my hope is that people find life more engaging, happy, peaceful and just truly live with respect and honesty towards everyone.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who has a great idea, but doesn’t know how to go about bringing it to market?
If you truly believe that you have an idea that answers a consumer need and can bring change to the lives of people around the world, never give up!
No matter how many “No’s” you receive, how many rejections you hear and how many failures you have along the road to it’s development, never give up.
Learn from every set back and push forward. Failure is the learning curve to success, not the end of the journey.
Finally Heather, what is the most memorable piece of feedback you have ever had from one of your customers?
Truly the most memorable piece of feedback that I’ve received from a customer was:
“I couldn’t believe that I opened the game and watched my 8 year old son and 3 of his friends put down their technology for more than 1 hour and laugh, giggle and truly have fun playing the game and moving their bodies. Then a few days later he came to me and asked to play Flip2BFit again! It was amazing to me that he put down his video games and wanted to play a board game! I’m convinced that this game works and am excited to play the game again with him and his friend!”
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