Molly Newman is the Senior Project Manager for Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180, working with some of the country’s leading out-of-school-time organizations to promote healthy habits through their HealthyKidsHub website.
Each of you works or volunteers in out-of-school-time programs for different reasons, but we all share the common goal of wanting to make a positive contribution to kids’ lives so they are equipped with the skills and confidence to become happy and productive adults. Out-of-school-time (OST) organizations can play a key role in promoting health and wellness programs that can impact not only the children, but leaders and families as well.
- Drink Right: Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Move More: Boost movement and physical activity in all programs.
- Snack Smart: Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.
How can the Healthy Kids Hub support you? Visit www.HealthyKidsHub.org and browse through resources on your own, or complete a brief survey to get resources tailored to your specific needs. You can also join other leaders from around the country in taking the pledge to adopt the three principles. Those who take the pledge by May 8, 2013, will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 100 $50 gift cards. Learn more at www.HealthyKidsHub.org.
Christina Schock, AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer, Nevada Afterschool Network
Afterschool Alliance AmeriCorps VISTAs are making a difference across our country. They’re working on projects involved with helping programs write sustainability plans and getting afterschool meals. VISTAs have been placed all across the country including Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, California, Ohio, New Mexico and many more. Along the way, while working directly with programs and networks, we have learned how to overcome many of the issues they face in today’s political and economic reality. Having worked with a gamut of different programs including rural, urban, elementary education programs, secondary education programs, resource rich programs and non-resource rich programs, we are looking to share those experiences and pass them along to programs outside of our reach.
We are introducing a new webinar series to pass along the tools, resources, experiences and lessons learned along the way. Each webinar will address an issue all programs face when looking at long term sustainability, such as grant writing, finding/retaining volunteers, building partnerships, diverse funding, marketing, core messaging, fundraising and events. Guest speakers and experts from the field will also be available to offer their advice and answer questions. Participants can register to participate in upcoming webinars or view/download past webinars for free at www.NevadaAfterschoolNetwork.org. We recommend passing along the webinars to programs that might benefit from them. This series is free thanks to the Afterschool Alliance, Nevada Afterschool Network and the many VISTAs working in the field. For more information and to register for an upcoming webinar you can visit the Nevada Afterschool Network's website.
Jeff Cole is the associate vice president of school-community partnerships for the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and Network Lead for the Nebraska Community Learning Center Network.
As a first time participant in the Afterschool for All Challenge, I really didn’t know what to expect as we were filing into the Russell Senate Office Building. Having nominated Kristin Williams, Director of Community Initiatives at Omaha’s Sherwood Foundation, as Nebraska’s Afterschool Champion (a MUCH deserved recognition for all her work promoting afterschool programs in high poverty schools in Omaha and across the state), I knew state level advocates would be recognized for their work. I didn’t realize that a bipartisan group of senators and representatives would be joined by other national advocates and young people from nearby programs at the “Breakfast of Champions” to make such a strong case for why afterschool programs are so important for our nation’s future before heading to meetings on Capitol Hill.
I was especially hearted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) comments in support of S. 326, which strengthens the crucial federal 21st CCLC grant program, highlighting how important afterschool programs are for residents of her largely rural state. I was honored to have the opportunity to chat with and share my enthusiasm for rural afterschool programs with Sen. Murkowski as she was leaving the ornate and historic Kennedy Caucus Room.
I carried this enthusiasm for the importance of rural afterschool programs over into the meetings that I had with 4 of Nebraska’s 5 Congressional delegations after the “Breakfast of Champions.” Retiring Sen. Mike Johanns met with our group and reflected on his understanding of the importance of afterschool programs that he gained while serving as Nebraska’s governor.
Nora Hall is a fellow at the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a recognized leader in sports-based youth development programs for children in underserved, urban communities. Proven to deliver positive health and social outcomes, the Foundation’s affordable initiatives offer safe environments in which both boys and girls thrive.
Sports have long played an important role in the world of afterschool programming, and with good reason—sports can provide unique opportunities for physical activity, mentorship and continued learning. Research shows that children who participate in organized sports are more likely to do well in school and less likely to be overweight or depressed. Unfortunately, many kids are excluded from afterschool sports programming due to cost and limited access to playing facilities. As a sports-based youth development organization, the U.S. Soccer Foundation is using soccer as a vehicle for social change and is working to create these opportunities for kids who would otherwise be excluded.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. In 1980, 7 percent of children aged 6-11 and 5 percent of children aged 12-19 were considered obese. By 2008, nearly 20 percent of children in both age categories were considered obese, with a large number of these children coming from urban, under-resourced communities.
Soccer for Success, the Foundation’s free soccer-based afterschool program, is working to reverse this trend by providing kids with a fun and engaging curriculum that blends physical activity with nutrition education. We partner with community-based organizations across the country to operate program sites at local schools and youth centers. By the end of the 2012-2013 program year, the Foundation will serve approximately 16,000 children in 20 different cities by providing afterschool programming three days a week.
We all know that after school and during the summer are a perfect time to get kids active and teach them healthy habits for life. Afterschool and summer learning programs offer a perfect complement to the school day and allow for creative partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to help improve the health of our communities.
Kaiser Permanente is offering a new tool, Thriving Schools, to help communities get active—it’s a great instrument that afterschool programs can adopt to help strengthen their partnership with schools, or to complement the physical activity programming they’re already doing. Thriving Schools is a comprehensive effort focused on creating a culture of health for K-12 students, staff and educators both during the school day and after. By promoting workforce health and student-focused interventions—such as improving snacks and meals and increasing opportunities for physical activity—Kaiser Permanente and its partners are working to fulfill the Institute of Medicine’s call for schools and afterschool programs to be “the heart of health.” Out-of-school-time providers will find it easy to adapt and use these tools in their own programs.
Kaiser Permanente has plenty of free ready-to-use tools and resources available on their website. One of our favorites is the Fire Up Your Feetinitiative, a partnership with Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National PTA. Fire Up Your Feet encourages educators, students and their families to walk or bike to and from school—or on their way to a before- or afterschool program! Afterschool programs can use the initiative as a fundraiser—think about incorporating Fire Up Your Feet into your Lights On Afterschool celebration in October!
In addition to programming ideas like Fire Up Your Feet, Thriving Schools also offers concrete, simple ideas for small changes you can make in your program to promote healthy eating, encourage physical activity and to create a healthy learning environment. For example:
Last week, Afterschool Caucus Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) put her support for afterschool programs and STEM education on the record on the Senate floor. Read her full statement below, or download here.
Madam President, I rise today to speak about the great work that afterschool and summer learning programs in California and across the country are doing to engage children and youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
Afterschool and summer programs are a vital part of our country’s education tapestry. They provide engaging, hands-on learning experiences that stimulate student interest, develop crucial skills, and drive home the relevance of STEM to our daily lives. Out- of-school learning opportunities help children develop the academic and life skills, such as problem-solving and determination, which are crucial in STEM fields. Additionally, these programs provide key opportunities for mentors and role models to engage with children.
High-quality afterschool STEM learning programs are having a significant impact on the young people who participate in them. A recent study shows participants in afterschool and summer programs have improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers, increased STEM capacities and skills, and a higher likelihood of graduating from high school and pursuing a STEM major in college.