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NOV
30
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Health & Wellness partners got communities active & moving during Lights On 2017

By Faith Savaiano

This year we were blown away with the number of Lights On Afterschool 2017 events that celebrated our official Health & Wellness theme through creative, educational activities that got kids active and learning about healthy habits. These events were great examples of everyday work that takes place in afterschool programs across the country, empowering students to be and feel healthier across many aspects of their lives.

There was no shortage of creative Health & Wellness-themed event ideas this year, including:

  • A climbing competition put on by After-School All Stars New York, which celebrated how health, nutrition, and determination can allow you to succeed in physical endeavors. Water, fruits, and healthy snacks were enjoyed by all at the event!
  • Healthy cooking demonstrations for the families at the 21st Century Community Learning Center program at Perrymont Elementary in Lynchburg, VA. The event was run in partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, and afterwards there was a “farmers’ market” where families could take home the produce and ingredients they saw in in the demonstration.
  • A “’Fall’ into Health & Wellness” event put on by the Boys & Girls Club of Rutherford County in Tennessee, which featured an anti-bullying rally, hula hoop and jump rope competition, zumba, smoothies, and glow-in-the-dark sports games!

Many of these events and programs wouldn’t exist without the help of our fantastic Lights On Afterschool Health & Wellness partners. We’re deeply appreciative for the work done by Voices for Healthy Kids, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Camp Fire USA, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Recreation and Park Association, and all of our other partners who work hard to ensure afterschool is a place where children are active and healthy!

MAY
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Make each day healthier for all children with Voices for Healthy Kids

By Charlotte Steinecke

As the only online national network of people focusing on helping kids grow up at a healthy weight, the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center (formerly PreventObesity.com) is the place where leaders and organizations connect with hundreds of thousands of health and wellness supporters in advocacy efforts and policy implementation.

Childhood obesity remains a serious issue confronting kids across the nation, and the out-of-school time programs in which they participate have a lot of opportunities to help improve their health. From the food choices families make and food preparation to food affordability and the physical activity kids experience each day, there’s a lot to do to build a network of people that can make change happen.

Check out the list of active campaigns, explore the advocate toolbox, and sign up to become an Action Center leader or create an organization profile so you'll receive updates on the latest news about helping kids in your community live, play, and learn healthier. 

share this link: http://bit.ly/2rwz5xS
learn more about: Health and Wellness Nutrition
MAR
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: 3 years of resources for healthy out-of-school time in parks and recreation

By Guest Blogger

By Allison Coleman, program manager at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and Ava DeBovis, national network manager at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This post was originally published on NRPA's Open Space blog.

In February 2014, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) launched Commit to Health, a campaign devoted to creating healthier out-of-school time (OST) programs in local parks and recreation. This month, we’re celebrating three years of successful implementation, great partnerships, new resources, and stories from communities across the country!

Over the last three years, park and recreation agencies have committed to implementing the Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) standards at their OST sites. The HEPA standards are things like ensuring that a fruit or vegetable is served at every meal, making sure that kids are getting 60 minutes of physical activity in a summer camp program, and providing drinking water at all times to youth and staff. Through implementation of these standards, more than 1270 park and recreation sites have provided increased access to healthy foods and new opportunities for physical activity for more than 228,000 youth. 

While the impact numbers alone are impressive, there are many reasons to celebrate this initiative—new partnerships have been created, new resources have been developed, and families across the county are eating healthy and moving more.

Key partnerships have created even larger impacts

In parks and recreation, we know how important partnerships are to the success of a program. Commit to Health has helped to spark numerous partnerships and collaborations across the country. From local agencies working in collaboration with state health departments, school districts, volunteer groups, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs, to national partnerships with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Partnership for a Healthier America, new relationships have flourished. 

MAR
8
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 8, 2017

By Luci Manning

Chefs of the Future Contest Has Kids Cookin’ Good (Daily News, New York)

Thirteen youths competed this weekend to see who could come up with the healthiest, most interesting recipe in the Recipe Rescue competition, part of an afterschool program run by the Department of Youth and Community Development and Compass. The students chopped, mashed, baked and diced their ingredients to cook up recipes like basil chicken burgers and baked sweet potato fries. The aim of the competition was to develop student interest in culinary arts and dietary awareness, according to the Daily News.

Big City University Provides Academic Enrichment Fun (Cleveland Daily Banner, Tennessee)

An afterschool program is helping struggling students in Bradley County Schools rediscover the fun in academia. The program, Big City University, focuses its attention on students from low-income families and those who are failing two or more subjects at school, pairing them with academic tutors and leading fun enrichment classes in science, art and physical education. “We focus on character education, academics and on building and growing the community,” director Stephanie Reffner told the Cleveland Daily Banner.

It’s Full Steam Ahead for Kids (Daily News of Los Angeles, California)

Robots, catapults, miniature tanks and other clever inventions were on display at Los Angeles Unified’s Northwest STEAM Fest 2017, a tech showcase for students in San Fernando Valley Schools. Students from more than 100 schools in the area came to the event to show off their creations from their extracurricular science, technology, engineering, art and math programs. “It’s all in the name of science. Engineering. What I think is cool,” 15-year old Amanda Basinger, who built a da Vinci-inspired machine that fires off ping-pong balls, told the Daily News of Los Angeles.

Mayor Meets with K.E.Y. Zone Girls’ Group (Duluth Budgeteer, Minnesota)

Young women in the K.E.Y. Zone afterschool Girls’ Group had the chance to meet with a female role model last week, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. Mayor Larson spoke to the girls about her job and what it’s like to be a woman in a leadership position, bolstering their self-confidence and encouraging them to pursue whatever career they want when they grow up. “For the past several weeks we’ve been talking to the girls about what it means to be a leader and how you can become a leader for something that you’re passionate about,” Girl’s Club leader Shelby Chmielecki told the Duluth Budgeteer. “I think it’s really important for the girls to see a woman leader who works at the local level and to see that it’s an attainable goal.” 

JAN
30
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Healthy eating and physical activity highlighted during MOST Conference

By Tiereny Lloyd

The Maryland Out of School Time Network held their seventh annual statewide conference on January 5 & 6 in Ellicott City, Md., celebrating the community of out-of-school time practitioners that MOST affectionately calls “OST Heroes.”

The two-day conference was jam-packed with informative workshops, resources from various exhibitors and the first annual MOST awards ceremony. I had the distinct pleasure of moderating a healthy behaviors panel, “Healthy Behaviors: Connecting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Partnerships for OST,” with experts from the Alliance for Healthier Generation, Giant Food, John Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Leveling the Playing Field, and Maryland Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Education.

The panel had three objectives:

  • Build awareness. The prevalence of childhood in Maryland reflects the national average, where approximately one in three children ages two to 19 is overweight or obese. Since the rate of childhood obesity has tripled over the past three decades and children are now more likely to acquire risk factors for cardiovascular disease, building awareness of the issue is imperative. The panel also highlighted the sometimes overlooked relationship between food insecurity and obesity.
  • Celebrate the network’s healthy eating and physical activity successes. In 2013, through a grant from the Maryland Food Bank provided by the Giant Food Foundation, MOST became the first statewide healthy out-of-school time intermediary to bring healthy eating and physical activity resources, training, and technical assistance to Maryland out-of-school time programs. As a result of the work of three Healthy Behaviors VISTAs and several partnerships that have developed over time, MOST was able to introduce the Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Framework, based on the National Afterschool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards, to 30 afterschool sites.
  • Take action. Since childhood obesity has become a national epidemic, we can no longer limit our prevention efforts to traditional school hours but must extend our efforts to before and after the school bell rings. To facilitate these efforts, MOST used this panel to inspire OST providers throughout Maryland to adopt the HOST Framework, become a healthy out-of-school time site and engage in the MOST Network’s Healthy Behaviors Learning Community.

The Maryland Out of School Time Network has done impactful work around Healthy Eating and Physical Activity and can be a valuable resource to other networks (and afterschool programs) looking to create and support heathier out-of-school time environments. Way to go, MOST!

JAN
25
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 25, 2017

By Luci Manning

Drexel Awarded $30 Million towards Community and Education Programs (The Triangle, Pennsylvania)

A $30 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to fight poverty and build a supportive community for young people in a West Philadelphia neighborhood. Drexel University will coordinate the initiative in partnership with the city of Philadelphia and area nonprofits. Philadelphia was one of six cities to be awarded the grant, according to The Triangle. “These grants will provide cradle-to-career support for at-risk children in communities across the country, offering meaningful resources that will help them achieve their potential,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said in a statement.

County Schools Implements Program Giving Each Student an Extra Meal (Cullman Times, Alabama)

Starting this semester, all students at a handful of Cullman County Schools will be able to receive a free afterschool meal, regardless of need and whether they attend the school where the meal is served. “There are a lot of kids who are at school later in the day. All your athletic teams; the band; many of the extracurricular groups—when those kids stay for practice, they can have an extra meal without having to wait until they get home,” Chief School Financial Officer Ed Roberson told the Cullman Times. “It’s really just a great program for a lot of students, for a lot of reasons.”

Idaho Educators Should Capitalize on Opportunities during Nonschool Hours (Idaho Statesman, Idaho)

Writing in the Idaho Statesman, Idaho AfterSchool Network director Marie Hattaway urges state lawmakers to bolster out-of-school time programs in their policies: “Too often as we discuss quality education and its role in the future workforce, we just look to what is offered in the classroom.… It is imperative that policymakers and stakeholders consider partnerships with out-of-school programs to achieve statewide education goals, especially with STEM, workforce and literacy skills…. Idaho invests millions in education, millions in the 20 percent of time spent in the classroom. The other 80 percent of the time deserves strong consideration in state policies and budget. As the state strives to hit key educational benchmarks and goals, out-of-school time must not be overlooked.”

These Chessboards Are HUGE, and They’re Yours to Play with (Durango Herald, Colorado)

Students in the Durango Gametime afterschool and summer programs will learn to play chess and checkers on a large scale, thanks to the hard work and generosity of a 17-year-old Eagle Scout. Trever Snodgrass built the life-size chess and checkerboards himself and donated them to Chapman Hill, the Mason Center and the Durango Community Recreation Center as part of an Eagle Scout community service project, hoping they will ignite the youths’ imaginations. “When we first brought them in, the looks on their faces—it’s nice to know they’re enjoying it,” he told the Durango Herald. “I think the kids are going to love it.

DEC
7
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 7, 2016

By Luci Manning

Establishing a Culture of Peace (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)
Students in the Martin Luther King Center afterschool program now have a safe space to relax, take a few deep breaths and escape the drama of their daily lives. The community center decided to create the new Peace Room to give students a place to wind down, read and meditate after they finish their homework. The room is filled with peace-themed art, books and beanbag chairs. “We’ve dedicated this as the no-drama zone,” center director Allison Luthe told the Indianapolis Star. In addition to the afterschool program, the center also tries to engage parents with services like job training, co-working space and financial coaching.

One Zesty Food Fight (St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, Michigan)
Some 130 students from five area high schools stewed beans, chopped vegetables and fried cornbread at the eighth annual Chili Cook-Off at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College on Friday. The competition gave students a chance to meet their peers in other culinary programs and show off the skills they have been learning in their cooking classes. Being in a college setting also may have inspired some of the students to start thinking about their future. “It can get them excited about college,” Chris Woodruff, chair of the college’s Hospitality and Management Faculty and program, told the Herald-Palladium. “Maybe they haven’t even thought about it yet. It’s like, ‘This is fun. I can do this. I may to do this for a career.’”

From Syrian Refugee to U.S. Doctor, He Helps Shape Teens’ Dreams (CNN)
When Dr. Heval Mohammad Kelli arrived in the U.S. as a Syrian refugee at age 17, he worked as a dishwasher on nights and weekends to help support his family, hoping to one day save enough money to go to medical school. Now, he trains as a cardiology fellow at Emory University, one block away from that restaurant, and mentors high school refugees who want to follow in his footsteps. “I feel the obligation as a physician that my service goes beyond patient care: I need to invest in the community,” Kelli told CNN. The Young Physicians Initiative is an afterschool program that partners Emory University medical students with young refugees from around the world to inspire them to pursue a career in medicine, no matter the barriers.

After-School Programs Are Vital for Austin’s Children (Austin-American Statesman, Texas)
Karen LaShelle, executive director of Creative Action, lays out the benefits of afterschool programs in an Austin-American Statesman op-ed: "One big reason so many children aren’t some place safe and constructively engaged is that we don’t have enough after-school programs across the state...The Del Valle school district, located just east of Austin, has risen to the challenge. All of its 12 schools provide after-school programs for youths in K-12th grade...They can get help with homework; act in a play; dance in a ballet folklorico group; learn about various science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics; play soccer of chess; plant and harvest a garden and more. And they do all those things under the watchful eyes of caring adults...We can only hope that leaders in other communities will find a way to follow Del Valle's example."

AUG
3
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 3, 2016

By Luci Manning

Teens Get Hooked on Surfing, Environment (Marin Independent Journal, California)

Two Marin high schoolers are building a love for the environment in younger students through a surfing summer camp. The free program targets underprivileged preteens who may not know much about environmental stewardship. Students receive more than just surfing lessons at the camp—they also learn about warming ocean temperatures and ocean life. Scott Tye, chairman of the Marin chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, told the Marin Independent Journal, “The goal is to preserve and maintain our beaches and teach about it in a positive way.” The program operates under the umbrella of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.

Summer Programs Close the Gap (Rutland Herald, Vermont)

Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe makes the case for summer learning programs in the Rutland Herald: “Summer doesn’t always promise the same opportunities for all of Vermont’s students, especially those students who live in poverty…. It doesn’t have to be this way. We know that access to good nutrition, health care, responsive adults and safe and supportive environments can help even the most challenged child thrive and learn. If we don’t provide these conditions, we are essentially manufacturing inequity at the level of the brain…. High-quality summer learning programs and strong after-school programs, coupled with food programs, will go a long way towards narrowing our opportunity and achievement gaps.”

The Boston Summer School Students Reach by Ferry – Not Bus (Christian Science Monitor)

Boston Afterschool and Beyond partnered with Outward Bound, Boston Public Schools and the National Parks Service to put together a top-notch, free summer learning program for low-income students in Boston. The program, hosted on Thompson Island, uses the surrounding natural environment to engage some 70 students in hands-on science lessons. Instructors try to take a holistic approach to their teaching, giving students the skills to reason and analyze and apply the lessons to their everyday lives, rather than just drill them with facts from a book. “If a student isn’t excelling in one kind of environment September through June, why would go and stick them back in that same environment for the whole summer?” Boston Afterschool and Beyond summer learning program director David McAuley told the Christian Science Monitor.

The Young Hustlers Prove Anyone Can Be an Entrepreneur (San Francisco Chronicle, California)

Statistics show that 87 percent of venture capital-backed startup founders are white—but this doesn’t faze the Young Hustlers, a group of minority preteens who started their own business making music and selling branded clothing. The business grew out of the 15 Seeds afterschool program, which provides underprivileged students a space to explore what they’re passionate about. The program gives youngsters, most of whom live in public housing, a chance to make money without resorting to gangs, drugs or violence. “When people hear where you live, where you’re from, they think they know you,” group hip-hop artist Dominique told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But they don’t know…. We’re making a difference. We’re entrepreneurs.”