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How to make afterschool health and wellness resolutions a reality

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How to make afterschool health and wellness resolutions a reality

At the beginning of each year, most of us set personal goals that we would like to accomplish. Although the list of New Year’s resolutions vary from person to person, eating better and exercising more are two of the most popular resolutions we make. As we start the year, let’s not only resolve to make healthier choices for ourselves but to also commit to creating heathier learning environments for our children. 

Since out-of-school-time programs provide a host of supports for students, finding an effective, easy-to-implement healthy eating and physical activity strategy can be somewhat challenging. To that end, here are a few tips to help you improve the health and wellness of students in your programs.

Set clear, individualized, and achievable goals

Start with the end in mind by identifying clear, achievable goals that are specific to your program. When developing goals, keep in mind that they should be measurable, budget-aware, and suited to your staff capacity. A good resource to establish appropriate physical activity and nutrition program goals are the National AfterSchool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. Remember, you don’t have to achieve every standard at once or in one year. Take your time and go at a pace that makes sense for your program.

Make a plan

Once you have identified goals, develop a plan of action. Action plans help you to stay on target as well as give all program staff a clear blueprint to success. The Alliance for Healthier Generation’s OST Framework is a self-guided online system that assesses your current health and wellness programming, creates an action plan, and identifies resources to meet your program needs.

Connect to community resources

Explore shared-use agreements. Use of existing school and community sport and recreational facilities can be a cost-effective way to promote physical activity in your programs. Here is a checklist that may help you as you explore.

Access federal child nutrition programs such as the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program to maximize the number of nutritious meals and snacks provided.

Support program staff

Check in with program staff to measure their comfort level with engaging in physical activity and nutrition education with students. Lack of staff training and low comfort levels can act as barriers to implementing safe and developmentally-appropriate physical activity and nutrition programming.

Involve families

Parents are key allies to reinforce new habits. Include parents (and guardians) in your programming and encourage them to support their children's participation in enjoyable physical activities  and tasty nutritious foods by acting as healthy role models.

Additionally, leverage parent voices in advocacy efforts for increased physical activity and nutritional foods in your programs. Based on our Kids on the Move report, parents look to afterschool programs to provide healthy foods and physical activity opportunities to children during the out-of-school time hours. Their voices, efforts, and outreach can help make that happen!

Integrate physical activity and nutrition into program activities and approaches

In order to maximize your time and enhance your programming, connect physical activity and nutrition education into other programming, such as tutoring, homework, STEM, creative arts, and other enrichment activities. Review this STEM and Wellness Issue Brief to give you some ideas on how to blend these two important components.

Plan your celebration

Prepare to succeed! As you implement your action plan throughout the year, take time to celebrate incremental milestones. Keep staff and parents updated on progress and share your stories of success with other programs and community partners.

Here’s to a happy and healthy new year!

Recap: Annual Out-of-School Time Advisory Coalition meeting

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Youth Afterschool Ambassador: "My parents were able to have peace of mind while I excelled in my education."

By Viridiana Gonzalez, Youth Afterschool Ambassador and junior at Texas Christian University. Although I grew up as a child in a low-income area with two working parents, I never knew the struggles that parents faced to keep their kids safe while trying to be financially stable. All I...

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Guest blog: Afterschool makes "cents" for Georgia

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/18/18

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By Heather E. Daly, Ph.D., director of Courageous Hearts, an organization committed to educating afterschool staff with drug education and prevention content; and Normandie Nigh, chief executive officer of A World Fit for Kids, whose mission is to prepare young people for fit and...

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BY: Alex Crooks      05/24/19

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BY: Guest Blogger      05/21/19

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/09/19

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/03/19

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BY: Erin Hegarty      11/20/18

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NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards streamlined in version 2.0

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/14/18

In Baltimore, kids conquer uneven bars and bar graphs

To be able to guess what the students in the Barclay After School Program are doing for the three hours after the last bell rings, you’d have to keep up with a diverse and ever-rotating schedule of activities, from STEM contests to photography lessons, from arts programming to...

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Guest blog: 2018 state report cards on active kids and communities

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/17/18

Positive female role models: 5 voices from healthy afterschool

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/30/19

$1.35M for middle school out-of-school time programs

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BY: Guest Blogger      11/12/18

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Guest blog: You are never too young to have a voice

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/24/18

Boy Scouts of America helps young man to push pass adversity and achieve highest rank

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BY: Guest Blogger      08/14/18

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/23/18

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BY: Arielle Kahn      06/19/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/10/19

Youth Afterschool Ambassador: "My parents were able to have peace of mind while I excelled in my education."

By Viridiana Gonzalez, Youth Afterschool Ambassador and junior at Texas Christian University. Although I grew up as a child in a low-income area with two working parents, I never knew the struggles that parents faced to keep their kids safe while trying to be financially stable. All I...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/30/19

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/06/19

Making music after school

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BY: Guest Blogger      04/26/19

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Justin (center) and students at Loyola University in New Orleans By Justin Pinn, director, Strategic Initiatives, Teach for America Miami-Dade. In honor of Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, the Afterschool Snack will feature stories from our Afterschool Ambassadors and other...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/25/19

From law enforcement to afterschool

By Michael “Bull” Brown, program director/CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Coffee County Region, in Douglas, Georgia. In honor of Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, the Afterschool Snack will feature stories from our Afterschool Ambassadors and other professionals...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/23/19

What makes afterschool professionally rewarding

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BY: Guest Blogger      04/22/19

My Ambassador experience

By Danielle Bowen, communications director at Education Data Research and Afterschool Ambassador Emeritus. For Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we asked a number of alumni of our Afterschool Ambassador program to reflect on how their experience as Ambassadors shaped their work and...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/27/18

Afterschool Ambassadors reflect: Learning to use your voice for afterschool

For Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we asked a number of alumni of our Afterschool Ambassador program to reflect on how their experience as Ambassadors shaped their work and careers. This is the third of four posts in the series. Angela Henry, Kansas, 2003-2004 Our afterschool...

BY: Matt Freeman      04/26/18

Afterschool Ambassadors reflect: “The greatest privilege in my 15 years in the field”

For Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we asked a number of alumni of our Afterschool Ambassador program to reflect on how their experience as Ambassadors shaped their work and careers. This is the second of four posts in the series. Paula Adams, Hawai’i, 2011-2012 Ambassador...

BY: Lisa Lederer      04/24/18