Charity Meets: Heather Parisi
Heather Parisi is the founder and creator of the widely popular board game Flip2BFit, as well as the charity organization Fitness For Africa.
Heather’s award-winning board game is the world’s first ever game that is fitness driven and promotes yoga, cardio, stretching and strength activities, while building self-esteem, confidence, and leadership abilities through the discovery method of learning.
Her charity organization believes in giving back to organizations both in the US and in Uganda to help low income children find a means to learn about fitness and healthy lifestyles. It’s with this mission in mind that Heather’s games are placed in several schools in Uganda and are being used as a means of organized fitness instruction promoting healthy lifestyles through education and fitness.
I got the chance speak more in-depth with Heather about all the good she is doing in the world today with her charity and board game. Check it out below!
Why is giving back is important to you? We don’t ask to be born in a certain country or of a certain race … it is all truly just the luck of the draw. I was fortunate to be born in the United States where Opportunity is a given and a way of life that is there to create greatness from. With this in mind its a natural step within me to want to share that gift of my opportunity as an American with those less fortunate and without the same opportunities given to them at birth. We are all human and all deserve the same ability to live a happy healthy life. Giving back to me is the core of what humanity should be built upon — sharing of what you are able to create with those less fortunate.
How has giving back helped you? Simple acts of kindness — such as a smile or a hug truly pay it forward and remind me that its the simple things in life that truly make all the difference in the day to day grind of living. Being embedded in my project in Uganda its not when the gift of education or clothes is given to the community that I feel the most rewarded … its when a child holds my hand and says Thank You and gives me a hug and a smile … the simple act of paying it forward has truly helped me find a greater inner peace and comfort with everything I am doing with my life and has truly enabled me to know Heather inside and out. I feel as though I’m more balanced – settled and capable of presenting my best self to everyone in my life.
How did you come up with the name Flip2BFit for your board game? The simple concept that you FLIP a card – perform an activity to become FIT. Flip2BFit, The original concept was also through about in regards to the fact that you’ll Flip a card / Flip your body and become FIT!
How do you incorporate giving back into your life and your game/company? In my daily life I really try to live a life from a space of positivity and recognizing what is around me. I truly try to be aware of the other people around me and to put forth that simple Smile and hello that can add to someone’s day. In my business world …Flip2BFit is set up as an LC3 – Limited Profit Company with Fitness For Africa as its designated Not for Profit Organization that receives a portion of the Profits from Flip2BFit Sales, so that Fitness For Africa may operate and provide Fitness and Nutrition Education to my 60 students at Pearl of Hope School in N Uganda. All of our projects of community outreach are also maintained so that we continue to share and educate the community on their options and choices to live a healthy life. Its really important that here in the US I help overcome Childhood Obesity with my games and through these sales that I help provide a viable solution to rid malnutrition and illiteracy in the small area of Uganda that I work within.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? Fit2BeKids –Fit to be Kids, Inc., a non-profit organization specializing in fitness activities, nutrition counseling and life coping skills for low-income/at-risk and special-needs children and their families in both Orange County, CA and Jefferson County, CO. Our health and wellness curriculum is designed to educate the public and to provide a local resource for reducing health risks of childhood obesity within the community. It’s an incredible organization and I’m proud to work with them using the Flip2BFit games.
The Wandering Samaritan – As the world gets smaller, nearly a billion international travelers look outside their own borders to experience new cultures. But what if going abroad wasn’t just about what you got, but what you gave? Enter TheWanderingSamaritan.org, a socially responsible organization created to help travelers help those in need, the ones who have fallen through the cracks of government and big NGO initiatives. Traditional giving and volunteerism can often lack transparency and feel calculated or routine. They answer that nagging question – I wish I could have done something!? I worked with The Wandering Samaritan to create an incredible day for my Students and their Families – Through incredible support of The Wandering Samaritan we enabled my community of students and families to see their Country! It was a day to be remembered forever as we took everyone on Safari and to Murchison Falls so that they too (as tourists from around the globe do) could experience the beauty and wonder of the land that they are from.
Why did you create your Fitness For Africa organization? Fitness For Africa is a calling that has lived within me since I was a child. The basic concept that everyone has the right to live a healthy life — they just need the knowledge to make the right decisions. I believe that one person can make a difference and that the impact of one can change generations to come.
As one girl I traveled 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 and 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 – 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.
Favorite food: Sautéed Brussel Sprouts
Favorite cocktail: Prosecco, I love BUBBLES — Bubbles are just happy.
Favorite restaurant: Hush Bistro
If you could host a dinner party, who would you invite living or dead? My boyfriend, My parents, Carl Sagan, Kahil Gibran, Paulo Coelho, Kevin Spacey, Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Robin Williams
Favorite vacation spot: Any foreign country … preferably a new country to explore and get immersed within the culture
Favorite TV show: Homeland / House of Cards
Favorite movie: Before Sunrise
Favorite song: Photograph
Favorite book: The Alchemist
Favorite apps: “7” / Yelp / WhatsApp / Viber
Favorite animal: Silverback Gorilla
Favorite workout routine: Stairmaster with 5 minute intervals breaking 1 Minute to do Squats / Planks / Jumping Jacks / Back Kicks / Crunches … Total 45 Minutes climbing 350 Flights
What experience in your life are you most proud of? I’m most proud of opening my School in Uganda. This experience has truly changed my life forever. I’ve been blessed beyond words in so many ways it’s a very humbling experience to be living and walking in my life each and everyday. I have met an incredible wealth of amazing people through so many different aspects connected to what I’m doing in the US and Uganda that my life will never be the same again. I’ve had complete strangers donate to my organization when they hear what I’m doing. I’ve met one of my best friends through a simple search for a PenPal that connected us when she found Fitness For Africa and reached out. I’ve truly been blessed to be able to live a life that truly is an answer to a calling that no words can explain.
What advice would you share with those looking at creating their own board game or charity organization? This life is yours and ONLY yours to live. If you truly believe in something and have a dream, never ever give up and don’t let anyone take it away from you. ONLY you can make it a reality and ONLY you walk in your shoes everyday.
What do you love most about what you do? I absolutely love that following my passions from within has allowed me to create a career that I wake up everyday knowing there is nothing else I want to do. I get to be involved in Fitness – Health and Happiness and I’m building a career around it that allows me to continue to Travel which is a passion and the most important part of it all is that I am helping others live a better life both in the US and overseas in Africa.
What one thing would you change in this world if you could? I would eliminate Racism. Human beings are all flesh and blood. We are all created the same way and should be viewed equal regardless of where we are from, what color our skin is or what socioeconomic level we are in. Every human being deserves the right to live a life of human equality.