OAK BROOK, IL, Apr 17, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) – McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) is marking 100-days-out from the Games with the official kick off of its McDonald's Champions of Play program. Developed for kids ages 6 - 14, the new program underscores the company's ongoing commitment to children's well-being by encouraging a balanced approach to nutrition and activity.
"With today's busy lifestyles, making play a priority has never been more important and we are committed to being part of the solution," said Kevin Newell, McDonald's Global Chief Brand Officer. "The McDonald's Champions of Play program will be the largest kids and family outreach in our Olympic history, designed to connect millions of kids to the Games and inspire the power of play in communities around the world."
On-Site at the London 2012 Games Through the Champions of Play program, McDonald's will bring nearly 200 kids from more than 34 countries to London for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Participants will attend Olympic sporting events, meet athletes and tour cultural sights. New for London will be an exclusive Olympic moment -- for the first time ever, the kids will get a behind-the-scenes look at select venues, such as the Athletics stadium, Velodrome and BMX track, and special access to where the athletes will compete.
The kids will also participate in chef demonstrations at the McDonald's restaurant in the Main Media Center. Working with McDonald's Executive Chef and Senior Director of Culinary Innovation Dan Coudreaut, the kids will learn about the quality ingredients and culinary expertise that goes into McDonald's food.
Many of the kids selected will act as young journalists while at the Games. A special media center will be available on-site to give them the opportunity to share the sights and sounds of the Olympic Games through their eyes with their hometown press.
"McDonald's shares our passion for bringing the youth of the world together and connecting with communities everywhere as only the Olympic Movement can do," said Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee President. "McDonald's is a longstanding partner of the Olympic Movement and we are excited by their plans for London 2012, particularly that they are giving young people from around the world the chance to experience the magic of the Olympic Games."
Beyond London McDonald's is bringing the Games to life in its restaurants around the world. The Champions of Play program is designed to reach millions of families through a variety of special materials and resources in restaurants and online to encourage balanced eating and fun play.
McDonald's Olympic Games Challenge Website The Champions of Play Olympic Games Challenge website will launch on June 4th, with a preview available beginning April 18th. Olympians will star in a series of imaginative challenges like running around the world and pole vaulting to the moon. Kids can participate in these challenges by doing real-life activities of their own and logging those activities online. Athletes will motivate kids with special messages of encouragement when they enter the web site.
Led by five-time U.S. Olympic Swimmer and 12-time medalist Dara Torres as the Global Ambassador of the program, some of the additional athletes will include:
"I had a blast working with McDonald's on the Olympic Games Challenge website," said Torres. "It's exciting to be part of a program of this size and scope and to see how it comes to life in countries around the world, encouraging families to be active while learning about balanced eating."
Dr. Paul Gately, Carnegie Professor of Exercise and Obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University, was instrumental in the development of the content and activities featured on the Olympic Games Challenge website. Kids will be able to access a variety of activities, which will help them develop a broad range of knowledge and skills for potential new sports and physical activities in the future. Gately, a long-standing member of McDonald's Global Advisory Council, designed each activity to provide a benefit for kids, focusing on the four training competencies of skill, strength, flexibility and cardio.
"Research shows that play is a critical element of kids' lives and can have positive impacts beyond just physical benefits, including building creativity, confidence and self-esteem," said Gately. "As a member of the Global Advisory Council, I'm pleased to see McDonald's continue to take action in this important area. I believe the Champions of Play program provides the right environment for children to successfully engage and continue to participate in physical activity and play."
Gately also played a key role in the development of the McDonald's UK Happy Meal Mascotathon. Launching on April 18 in the UK, this program features unique Happy Meal activity toys to track energy use and a website where kids can enter their points to move the Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, across the country to arrive in London in time for the Games.
Happy Meal Packaging and Playbooks As part of the overall Champions of Play experience, special Happy Meal packaging and in-restaurant materials like Fun Times Magazine will provide tips on balanced eating and fun play. In addition, millions of Champions of Play Playbooks encouraging physical activity will be distributed to kids and families around the world.
McDonald's commitment to the Olympic Movement began in 1968, when the company airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes in Grenoble, France, after they reported being homesick for McDonald's food. The company has served its menu of choice and variety to millions of athletes, their coaches, families and fans. London 2012 marks the ninth consecutive Games that McDonald's will feed the athletes as the Official Restaurant of the Olympic Games.
About McDonald's Global Advisory Council The McDonald's Global Advisory Council (GAC) is made up of independent experts in the areas of nutrition, public health and fitness. Since 2004, the GAC has provided McDonald's guidance on key areas such as global nutrition labeling, McDonald's children's well-being platforms and approaches for motivating children to eat more fruits and vegetables.
McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with more than 33,000 locations serving approximately 68 million customers in 119 countries each day. More than 80 percent of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local men and women. To learn more about the company's Olympic plans, please visit http://aboutmcdonalds.com/epk/2012LondonOlympicGames and follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/mcdonaldscorp) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/mcdonaldscorp).
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SOURCE: McDonald's Corporation