Afterschool programs are taking up the challenge, too, displaying the creative energy that we all love about our field—from families creating a 3D town using supplies they are donating to a local pantry, to a family dinner night at an animal shelter where families make doggie treats and read to the animals!
We’re all in here at the Afterschool Alliance, and I hope you will join us—take the Power Down Pledge—and celebrate the start of summer this weekend as we will, connecting with those around us.
For the past nine years, Torani’s Art for Kids project has highlighted the importance of afterschool programs nationwide by featuring the artwork of afterschool students on limited-edition beverage labels. The company donates a percentage of the sales of the limited edition bottles to the Afterschool Alliance.
By Jen Rinehart
Last month, state afterschool leaders from across the country were together in Washington, D.C., to share strategies for advancing afterschool and to discuss the ways that afterschool supports students and families. At the meeting, there was a lively discussion about the role of afterschool in supporting health and wellness for students.
In recent years, national afterschool providers like the Y of the USA, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America have pledged to adopt the National AfterSchool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. To expand beyond the national organizations’ affiliates, several statewide afterschool networks are working to get more programs, regardless of their national affiliation, to adopt the standards. For example:
- The Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network is directly connecting programs with partners and resources that support healthful behaviors; serving as a clearinghouse of information, partnering with the US Tennis Association and working with the Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger by 2015 to help ensure healthful snacks and meals are served throughout the school year and during the summer. Check out one of their resources: Eat, Play, Learn: Out of School Time in Action.
- OregonASK and its partners have teamed up to offer a Health and Wellness Toolkit and Afterschool Curriculum. During the 2013-2014 school year the curriculum was piloted at the Woodburn After School Program. The toolkit is available free from OregonASK for use by afterschool programs across the state and beyond.
- In South Carolina, both the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and the YMCA of Columbia have been playing a statewide leadership role. The YMCA of Columbia partnered with the University of South Carolina to create and evaluate strategies to meet the standards and is now working to help other Ys across the state adopt and meet the HEPA standards using these tested strategies. The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance is working with the South Carolina Obesity Council to include afterschool and the adoption of the HEPA standards as strategies in the South Carolina Obesity State Plan. Finally, both organizations are working with the University of South Carolina to develop centers of excellence—programs that are making the most progress in implementing the standards, strategically located across the state to help other programs come on board.
All three of these states are working closely with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which offers no-cost online tools and resources to help afterschool providers create healthful environments for young people. Working together, state and national organizations can help ensure that local afterschool programs act as key partners in comprehensive efforts to ensure healthy futures for our youth. Check out the resources, links and policy tools from the Afterschool Alliance here.
Bob Seidel is the senior director of strategic initiatives and policy at the National Summer Learning Association. For more ideas on addressing policy makers about summer learning, contact Bob Seidel at email@example.com.
Summer Learning Day is June 20! But you can celebrate it locally anytime during the summer. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the students, educators and their community partners who are making summertime an exciting period of growth and learning.
It’s also an important occasion for calling attention to the challenge that summer learning loss poses to our communities. Mayors, council members, superintendents, principals and other local leaders need to understand that summer learning loss can undermine academic success and, with it, the community’s future, but that expanding summer learning opportunities can support and accelerate education goals.
The Afterschool Alliance has been following the emergence of digital badges for almost a year now. More recently, we’ve joined with the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla and HASTAC to dig deeper into the potential of digital badges in the out-of-school space.
Part of better understanding what digital badges can mean for afterschool is understand what the afterschool field knows about digital badges and the perceptions of digital badges.
That is why we want to hear from you. Take this short survey and help us better understand the afterschool field’s awareness of digital badges and perceptions of this emerging innovation.
If you’ve never heard of heard of digital badges, we want to know that. If you’ve worked with digital badges, we want to know that too.
Your responses will be incredibly helpful to shape and coordinate our work in the digital badge space.
Our friends at the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) recently published this video discussing the benefits of school district/community collaborations in their area. We hope their experiences can be helpful to you!
Ed. Note: The White House Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, is focused on creating opportunities for boys and young men of color. To help the White House better understand the important role that afterschool programs are playing in supporting boys and young men of color, we are gathering stories from the field and will be sharing them with the White House. We may also ask you to share additional details in the form of a guest blog or on a conference call or webinar. Our afterschool ambassador, Rennell Woods, is helping us kick off this project with his story below. Please submit your story here.
Rennell Woods is the executive director of the At-Risk American Male Education Network in Jonesboro, Ark., and an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance. AAMEN’s work is supported by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
The launch last month of the president’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is great news. I’m reminded every single day of the need for such an effort.
By Musa Farmand
Quality afterschool programs that are based in or adjacent to affordable housing communities can guarantee access to a safe and stimulating learning environment for the children of working families who are most in need of such services. Through the Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in Cleveland, Ohio, and its community partners are providing resident K-8 students with opportunities to achieve their educational goals and engage in positive interactions with the larger community. Below, we showcase CMHA’s 21st CCLC program, explore the unique benefits of housing-based afterschool programs, and highlight other afterschool partnerships that CMHA maintains in order to provide access to quality, affordable afterschool for all of the families they serve.
David Reeves is marketing manager of Playland Inc. in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc. is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, with its roots deep in the park and playground markets including churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor playgrounds, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities.
As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time exercising and playing. Just like adults, kids need exercise, and there are plenty of benefits of exercising for school-aged children. As you may know, one hour of physical activity per day is the commonly suggested amount for kids to get the most out of these benefits.
Some benefits of exercise for school-aged children are pretty obvious, such as weight control. Kids who exercise also fulfill a great number of vital emotional, social and cognitive needs. Play helps kids feel better, act better and think better. They feel less stressed, and higher levels of physical fitness also improve confidence. They sleep better at night and are ready to learn more in school. Exercise helps kids build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. Kids who exercise with their peers also learn teamwork and goal setting, and the chance of developing diseases later in life is greatly reduced.