Daniel W. Hatcher serves as National Healthy Out-of-School Time Advisor for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. At the Alliance, Daniel supports community based organizations to ensure out-of-school time settings promote healthy development of all young people. Daniel joined the Alliance from Youth Service American where he served as Director of Outreach. Daniel holds a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Education, both from Western Kentucky University. Daniel is a skilled facilitator for both adults and youth with extensive experience speaking at local, regional and national conferences, including state-level afterschool association meetings, and numerous youth-serving organization national conferences.
Imagine if we, above all else, prioritized creating a more connected world. If we blend and integrate our passions, what innovations will we discover? What challenges would we overcome?
To celebrate National Nutrition Month, this article explores how local agriculture can help foster social connectedness.
To do this, I spoke with youth and adults representing urban and rural communities, non-profits, business and government and education agencies. Each brings a perspective that explores linkages to the built environment, education, youth engagement, workforce and inclusion.
I hope you find this exploration inspiring and enlightening. Perhaps you will identify a new partner or a new connection for your work.
My first two questions were for Lindsey Piant-Perez, Senior Architect and Southeast Sustainability Leader at DLR Group. Lindsey has been with DLR Group for 12 years and recently received a DLR Group Professional Development Grant to implement a garden-to-table project at Trinity Lutheran School in Orlando.
As both a parent of a young child and an accomplished architect, why do you think designing experiences that bring people together in nature is essential?
Lindsey: It always amazes me how much children naturally want to explore their environment. They like touching dirt, bugs, they look up to the sky often and truly notice the world around them. Architects focus on "what can be" about the built environment and how spaces can foster personalized learning. When we integrate indoor and outdoor environments and allow educators to bring learning concepts to life, there is a profound impact on performance.
How can the built environment create stronger families and communities?
Lindsey: A personal goal I have for my garden-to-table project is to explore how the school garden finds its way home. Will the garden influence kids in their eating habits? Will kids ask their parents to start a windowsill or backyard garden? I would love to see parents get involved with our garden; imagine if parents tended the garden with their child prior to heading home. Would that that experience reduce stress for the caregiver? Would it bring the parent and child closer?
My next two questions were for Erica Walther, Farm to School Specialist with the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Tell me more about Farm to School efforts in DC and what excites you about your work.
Erica: Farm field trips are a big push for us right now and we provide grant funding to schools and community organizations to take students on trips to farms in DC, Maryland and Virginia. The DC Farm to School Network is working to create opportunities to convene champions and promote dialogue. We also actively celebrate our achievements in getting local food into school meals. We are in our fourth year of collecting data from schools on the local foods they are purchasing and serving. This allows us to track trends in local food procurement and expands our network of farmers and distributors that grow and sell locally sourced items to schools.
What role do you think connecting children with local agriculture plays in educating them about global issues like health, safety and food insecurity?
A huge one and it's one of the reasons I love coming to work every day! Children are the future of our country; we cannot wait to help them build healthy habits and play a role in our community. I see local agriculture as a way to get children excited about eating healthy because they can connect directly with where their food comes from. They can pull a carrot from their school garden, harvest kale at a DC-based farm and meet a herd of cattle in Maryland. We see students react positively when they taste those items on-site, get to ask questions and learn about different agriculture practices.
To learn more about both farm to school as well as farm to afterschool, I turned to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). According to Clarissa Hayes, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst at FRAC, using local foods in summer and afterschool programming not only improves the quality of meals served but also strengthens connections to the farming community.
FRAC's Fresh from the Farm Guide explains that locally based agriculture marketing not only helps local economies by providing jobs and keeping farm sales within communities, but keeps working agricultural land open and gives local farmers an opportunity to play a role in nutrition enrichment.
To explore the linkage to youth leadership and service-learning, I had the opportunity to speak with two student officers for Minnesota Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and their advisor.
FCCLA Advisor Tammy Borman has been involved with FCCLA for 15 years. Tammy states she "highly encourages teachers to look for opportunities to engage students in service-learning based on community needs children themselves have identified."
Mya Christensen, State President Elect has been involved for six years. She shared how being part of FCCLA has given her an opportunity to learn advocacy skills, make new friends and get out of her comfort zone by speaking in public.
When I asked Mya why she and other students should be involved in service-learning, she shared, "I think that it is important for students to be actively involved in service-learning projects because it helps them learn skills that are important to not only provide a positive impact on themselves, but also provide a positive impact on their communities."
Mya also shared two programs of FCCLA focused on health, wellness and food insecurity. Student Body, a program that helps members develop healthy living skills and Lead2Feed, FCCLA's national outreach program that teaches students how to help with hunger locally and globally.
I also spoke with the Minnesota FCCLA State Secretary, Johannah Nielsen for advice on involving students. Johannah shared, "Be persistent and patient because it can sometimes be a challenge to get students involved, but it all pays off greatly in the end... Every student has different interests, so planning diverse service projects that are fun and engaging is always a good idea."
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Creating opportunities to link children to local agriculture takes political champions, including local government. My next two questions went to Nancy Thellman, who works for Douglas County, Kansas as a County Commissioner.
Workforce development is a critical issue in our country. In your experience, how can connecting children with nature and local agriculture encourage them to pursue careers in farming and food production?
Nancy: Meeting farmers, especially young farmers, opens kids' eyes to a variety of careers that most have never thought of. There is a whole world of food-related work that doesn't necessarily require owning land or planting a single seed, including marketing, processing and distributing, culinary arts, food system planning and policy work. Food and agriculture offer a remarkable job sector that can be low-tech or high-tech, rural or urban, part-time or full-time, first career or second, third or fourth!
Do you think this linkage helps foster greater understanding of global issues like food insecurity, safety and health?
Nancy: Kids have a natural sense of what's fair and what's not fair. They know people shouldn't go hungry. Kids know people would rather be well than sick. Helping them understand how access to healthy food is part of the equation for solving hunger and improving health. Wouldn't it be great if our local farmers could be heroes in kids' eyes?
Providing a more urban perspective, I asked Sean Madden, Transition Coordinator for St. Louis YouthBuild: Workforce development is a critical issue in our country. In your experience, how can connecting children with nature and local agriculture encourage them to pursue trade school or higher education?
Sean: Connecting children with nature and local agriculture goes a long way towards reinforcing energy conservation, a need for a greener economy and nurturing a greater understanding of global issues. Teaching young people how to be urban farmers has been one of the many focuses of two local St. Louis organizations called Gateway Greening and Earth Dance Farms in Ferguson, Missouri. Introducing more students to aspects of a green economy allows them to see a different career pipeline after high school.
INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
Ultimately, outdoor experiences and linkages to nature are only as impactful as they are inclusive. To round out the conversation with tips on inclusion, I spoke with Lori Watkins, Coordinator of Recreation for the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama who regularly coordinates hunting camps for individuals with disabilities.
Acknowledging that making outdoor activities inclusive can be intimidating, Lori offered the following recommendations:
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this discussion. It is my hope that these diverse perspectives help you identify additional partnerships and resources through which you can leverage local agriculture to create a more connected world.
To read extended interviews and join the conversation, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Out-of-School Time blog.
For breakfast I had coffee, yogurt, berries and granola.
Designing welcoming environments for children and families has never been more important.
Let's look at some statistics and then talk action!
When reading these statistics, it's easy to feel discouraged. But – AFTERSCHOOL IS POWERFUL.
Imagine if we energize the 10.2 million children attending afterschool programs to feel a greater sense of connectedness and responsibility for each other and their communities.
Inspired by a recent visit I made to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), below are four activities to try this month to foster inclusive and welcoming environments. I've also intentionally blended these activities with the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity because a healthy afterschool site should always be an inclusive site.
1. Lead a Site Walk-through
Gather staff and students to lead an inclusion-focused walk-through of your afterschool site. If you operate on school grounds, invite school administration to join you. If you're a recreation agency, invite someone from your city council to join you. Before a child or family member even walks through your front door, what small changes can you make to ensure they feel welcome?
What opportunities will you uncover on your walk? Here are some ideas:
One new solution might be to create a fun and active trail made with Alliance for a Healthier Generation task cards leading up to your front door. Print, laminate and post activities using paint sticks. It'll add color and movement to your site while making a statement that something fresh and engaging happens inside!
Why not ask teens to design an "all about me" welcome bulletin board that features site staff and their favorite physical activities or hobbies. Integrate this activity into new volunteer or staff on-boarding to reinforce that your program prioritizes healthy role-modeling.
Keep the creativity flowing and help new students feel included by providing clear and vibrant signage. Decorate water fountains, hang encouraging stairwell signs and make it the norm to dance from point A to point B. In a challenging world, filling our afterschool programs with art, music and movement can provide a much needed oasis for children who may not otherwise have it.
A site walk-through gives children the opportunity to express their creativity and take ownership of the physical space of their afterschool site where they can find places to "absorb, act and show". Invite in-school staff to collaborate with afterschool staff and work together, especially if you share space. Consider putting a shared use agreement in place to make your efforts more sustainable.
Invite maintenance staff to participate so they understand your program goals. Something as simple as requesting light bulbs to be replaced can make it easier for children with disabilities, brighten up dark corners and encourage stairwell usage. Why not partner with your local creative community to paint a mural with positive and healthy messages? Not sure how to get plugged in? Check out a Creative Mornings event. A service-learning grant could help make it happen and a local art store might donate supplies and talent.
Combine intentionality and spring-cleaning and who knows what inspired materials you'll find in your supply closet!
2. Make Daily Cooperative Physical Activity the Norm
It doesn't matter if your program is focused on STEM or homework help, starting your program day with an inclusive brain booster can help children get active, clear their mind and foster connectedness. Make rainy days cooperative days even if they catch you by surprise. Create your own collection of favorite energizers so it's easier for children to help staff select activities that meet best practices.
Make this practice sustainable by adopting a wellness policy that ensures all program time begins with physical activity. Add cooperative physical activities to staff meetings and family events too for consistent messaging and role-modeling.
Avoid games with elimination elements that might target children who are new or different. Never run out of ideas by hosting your own do-it-yourself brain booster activity. Commit to never playing games like dodgeball – ever.
Daily cooperative activities give children an opportunity to learn, practice and develop a life-long love of movement. Cooperative games also make it easier for children to share in leadership.
3. Build Community through Healthy Snacks and Meals
If you serve afterschool snacks, meals or summer meals, promote dialogue and discussion through intentional conversations and activities. Structured mealtimes prevent small cliques from forming. Pay attention to needs of children with physical disabilities who many need accommodations. As you plan for summer meals, consider how new partners can spread the word, such as healthcare providers, the faith community and social service agencies who can help you reach a broader audience.
Let shared food experiences show youth how to identify commonalities with their peers and community members. Taste tests and potlucks at family events create space for families to get to know each other, share culture and traditions of cooking, meal times or even food preservation.
4. Build a Movement through Partnerships with Purpose
From maintenance staff willing to replace your light bulb to a police officer who likes to Zumba, creating healthy inclusive communities requires all of us. Learning how to work together can be the most challenging part. Begin staff meetings with intentional icebreakers to help staff connect on a personal and professional level.
Ensure your social media reflects families that you want to recruit into your program and depicts an inclusive environment.
Imagine the world we could create if we harnessed the power of the 10.2 million children who attend afterschool programs. That potential grows if we involve passionate staff, unconventional partners and extended families. We can accomplish a lot in afterschool, from health and wellness to STEM, but our impact will only be as strong as our ability to be inclusive and welcoming.
For breakfast I had a coffee and two clementines.
This month the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is celebrating America's Healthiest Schools. Schools recognized by the Alliance have met stringent guidelines for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting all children active and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models.
Schools are essential partners for out-of-school time organizations. According to the Afterschool Alliance, 73% of parents report that their child's afterschool program is located in a public school building. It does not matter if you are a school leader, community stakeholder or youth development professional, we must all work together to create a support network to help children triumph over the tough challenges they face.
Let's start with a reality check. Here are three statistics:
• 16.2 million children live in households that lack the means to get regular nutritious food.
• 4,787 young people ages 10 to 24 were victims of homicide in 2012.
• 1.3 million homeless children were enrolled in public schools during the 2013-2014 school year.
These issues go beyond the children directly impacted and ripple through our communities and neighborhoods. To overcome these challenges, we as afterschool, out-of-school time and expanded learning professionals must find innovative ways to partner with teachers, schools and school districts.
To provide you with tangible tips, I've consulted with seven organizations. Each provides a unique perspective on why school-community collaborations are essential and how to craft successful partnerships.
My first question is for Carlos Santini, National Vice-President of Programs for After-School All-Stars and fellow Breakfast Club blogger. Carlos previously served as the Associate Director for After-School All-Stars Los Angeles.
After-School All-Stars is a school-based program. What has been most successful in starting school-based collaborations?
Carlos: Get to know your school principal. And, it's important to have empathy and really understand where they're coming from. Encourage staff to be proactive in reaching out to school administrators or faculty. Start the conversation and create a narrative based on good news rather than a challenge. When students in your afterschool program tell you that a teacher as made a positive impact on them, share that with the teacher. Start by asking your local principal, "is there anything you've been wanting to do with your students or school community that you've not been able to do, perhaps an event, field-trip or activity?" Make careful notes of their responses and begin planning how your program can make this happen. Once you help a school check something off their bucket list, your credibility and desirability skyrockets.
My second question is for Sean Gustafson. Over the past three years at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Sean has had the opportunity to work on Let's Move! Active Schools and is currently a Healthy Schools Program Manager in New York City.
As someone who works closely with school leaders, why do you think schools and communities need to work together?
Sean: It can be as simple and school and afterschool staff working together to provide consistent and healthy role modeling. It's essential for all partners to provide cohesive messaging. When it comes to serving healthy meals, afterschool providers and schools can use the new Smart Food Planner to find nutritious foods.
My third question is for Peggy Agron, National Director of Healthy Schools for Kaiser Permanente.
What's the goal of Thriving Schools and why intentional partnerships important when time and resources are limited?
Peggy: The goal of Thriving Schools is to improve the health of students, staff and teachers in K-12 schools in communities that Kaiser Permanente serves. It is an effort to increase healthy eating and physical activity, social and emotional wellness and school employee wellness primarily through a focus on policy, systems and environmental changes.
We cannot expect children to reach their full potential if their basic needs are not met and if they have been exposed to multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). Research has shown the negative, long-term impact of trauma experienced during critical periods on brain development, learning ability, social relations and future physical and psychological health. Partnerships between afterschool programs and schools provide essential support to all adult-allies to manage their own stress and equip them with essential tools, knowledge and resources to help children get access to essential services within the community.
My fourth question is for Marcia Dvorak, Project Director of the Kansas Enrichment Network, one of the statewide afterschool networks. State afterschool networks are dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of afterschool and to building capacity of existing programs.
One of the greatest challenges for afterschool providers is adequate funding. In your experience, how have school and community partnerships strengthened funding opportunities? What other community partnerships are necessary to develop a strong infrastructure for quality afterschool?
Marcia: Grants require continued submissions of proposals, a great deal of staff time, and come with a constant concern that funding will be short-term or even cause mission-drift. A community approach affords leaders to focus on local needs, and when the community provides support, sustainability is strengthened. Partnerships capitalize on each other's strengths and create a holistic approach. Collaboration among providers can allow staff to learn from each other. Classroom educators provide pedagogical strategies while afterschool staff incorporate their expertise in positive youth development.
Afterschool is also a perfect opportunity to work on soft (essential) skills, strengthen 21st Century skills and exposes youth to career options. Collaborative partnerships connect businesses to academic skills and afterschool programming. Business employees can speak to youth to build career awareness, serve as mentors, or even provide internships and job-shadowing. These methods help disengaged students, spark interest in careers for all youth and offer opportunities for the community to develop its future workforce.
My fifth question is for Clarissa Hayes, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst at Food Research and Action Center.
According to your recent report Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation, in July 2015, 15.8 children received summer nutrition on a typical weekday for every 100 low income students who received lunch in the 2014-2015 school year. Do you think schools and summer and out-of-school programs need to partner to change this statistic?
Clarissa: Yes! Schools are the perfect partner to engage in addressing food insecurity during the summer. Because they already have existing infrastructure and expertise in operating the child nutrition programs during the school year, schools are a great source to tap for providing nutritious meals during the summer. Out-of-school programs can reach out to their school district to see whether they can sponsor the meals component of their program, which means the school would take responsibility for purchasing meals, delivering meals to programs and the paperwork.
My sixth question is for one of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's implementation partners working to advance the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, Allison Colman Program Manager for the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
NRPA recently reported that the top outside partner of recreation agencies are local school districts (54%). How have you seen local recreation agencies collaborate with school districts to strengthen afterschool and community programs?
Allison: Traditionally, park and recreation agencies often work with schools through shared-use agreements, allowing out-of-school providers to utilize school campuses and services during the summer months or for afterschool programs. Less traditional models of successful shared-use are emerging every day, providing mutual benefits for both schools and recreation agencies. A great example comes from the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission who entered a partnership with Prince George's County Public Schools to provide swimming lessons at five elementary schools, increasing physical activity and teaching children basic swim skills they will use for life.
My seventh and final question is for Sarah Sliwa, Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What should afterschool staff know about the work of the CDC School Health branch? What opportunity do you see for afterschool providers to partner with ongoing school wellness efforts?
CDC works to increase children's opportunities to be physically active and consume foods and beverages like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and water throughout the school day. Many children stay on school grounds after the school day ends. Learning doesn't stop with the last bell, and neither does the need for healthful foods, active play, and other options for physical activity. We are partnering with two national organizations, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Boys and Girls Club of America, to develop resources, professional development, and trainings for out of school time (OST) providers, with a focus on school-sited programs. One of the goals of this partnership is to collaborate with existing networks, like the HOST (Healthy Out of School Time) Coalition, to support and increase the adoption of the evidence-based Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards. We are excited about this work and the role we may be able to play in helping fill some information gaps about children enrolled in school-sited OST programs.
Community-school collaborations are an important piece of supporting children's well-being. CDC and ASCD's Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child framework illustrates how schools and the connections between schools, families, and the community are essential to supporting children's academic achievement and physical, social, and emotional development. OST programs can support health behaviors through their programming, staff role-modeling, policies and practices, and connection to parents.
How do you currently collaborate with teachers, principals and school districts? Maybe you're just getting to know each other. Perhaps you're informally sharing space or exploring joint-fundraising. Maybe you've already established a shared used agreement or work together to serve snacks and meals.
No matter where you are in the process, stay focused on the goal – helping our children live long healthy lives. Resilience and success is only possible if we work together.
For an extended version of this article, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Out-of-School Time blog to read more interview questions with a special focus on training tips and success stories.
A special thanks to everyone who collaborated on this article. All photos provided by After-School AllStars.
For breakfast I had a giant iced coffee and a banana.
This blog was originally posted on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Out-of-School Time Blog.
The Best Out-of-School Time (BOOST) Conference is coming up, and this year I'm honored to once again co-present with Bruno Marchesi, Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Collaborative Solutions. We will be discussing Local, State, and National Perspectives on the Healthy Afterschool Movement.
Prior to his role as COO, Bruno served as Project Manager for the Healthy Behaviors and My Brother's Keeper statewide initiatives. Bruno has also previously served as Program Director of the UC Davis School of Education and the California AfterSchool Network. Additionally, both Bruno and I are bloggers with the BOOST Breakfast Club!
First question: Why did you choose to work in the out-of-school time (OST) space? Why do you think OST essential for the success of children?
I began my journey in after school working as a line staff in an after school program in 1997. I did not realize until much later in my career that after school programs not only provide a safe and supportive space for young people, but it exposes them to academic enrichment opportunities that they otherwise may not have. Afterschool provides young people an opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with their peers and caring adults, while at the same time giving them an opportunity to develop their voice and leadership skills.
Second question: What are some experiences you've had working in OST that have helped you develop as a professional?
As I developed my own skills in after school and got an opportunity to be promoted into other positions within the OST field, I cannot say enough about the blessing that I have received to be surrounded by such great coaches throughout my career. These folks really invested their time, energy and expertise to help me develop my skills while showing me personal and professional friendship and helping me aspire towards and develop career goals. This really has been the key to success for my development in the field. I can only hope to do my part and pass along the knowledge and experience that I have gained to others in the field.
Third question: What do you feel like is missing when it comes to training OST professionals?
I believe that as a field, we have grown to be more sophisticated about the professional development offerings that we provide our staff. I think we need to do a better job with mentorship, focusing not only on outcome based skills but soft skills when it comes to leadership development, core values, and transferring of knowledge between colleagues.
Let's keep going: What's one of the best pieces of advice someone has given you while working in the OST field?
One of my former mentors always emphasized the value of prioritizing what is really important based on your own core values, only then will we have the time to do what is needed and what we deem important in life. It is the difference between doing things right... and doing the right things.
One more: With high turnover and lower pay, how do you think young professionals can be recruited and retained to work in OST?
I truly believe that each person has to make their own decisions about staying, however, having an intentional vision and an organizational culture that fosters trust is key to building community engagement, both internally with our staff, and externally with those whom we serve. It's about creating systems to treat our staff in the same way that our organization intends to serve our community.
Thanks Bruno! Who are the coaches and mentors in your life? Who do you have the ability to inspire? Take time this week as you plan activities and schedules to reflect and reconnect with the core values that drive you and your commitment to out-of-school time.
For breakfast I had a coffee and scrambled eggs.
Call it what you want - partnerships, collaborations, collective impact - whatever your terminology of choice, partnerships with purpose are essential for any out-of-school program to be successful. Resources are tight, time is limited and staff turnover is a reality. So how do you build impactful partnerships?
Here are 9 tips from key out-of-school time leaders. Use the hashtag #PartnershipsWithPurpose to share yours.
"Establish a mutual purpose of providing the best for kids. Revisit it often and always practice the social and emotional skills that we work to teach kids every day!"
Heidi Ham, VP of Programs and Strategy, National AfterSchool Association
"Communicate early and often, have clear expectations for roles and responsibilities and celebrate your successes! Often times this last piece is overlooked, but it's important to take time to celebrate your accomplishments and successes. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and the impact you've made together!"
Lesley Graham, Associate Director, Health, Save the Children US Programs
"The importance of partnership diversity cannot be overstated. Inclusion of representatives of all members of the community is the only way to ensure that as many perspectives as possible are factored into your outreach strategies and programs. Look beyond your target population to ensure the sustainability of your program. Listen and strive to provide inclusive programming that meets the needs of all children."
Amy Rauworth, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Lakeshore Foundation
"Work together with those who share a common goal to make a long-lasting difference. Always remember to be prepared, well informed and enthusiastic to strengthen current partnerships and develop strong future possibilities."
Bobby Sena, Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board
"I think the first step in any partnership should be to do a needs assessment - what do community stakeholders see as the skills that students need to be productive citizens and workers? Which seem to be currently lacking in graduates? Then think about how your program fills those needs. Knowing this will help you as you approach potential partners and collaborators."
Heather Singmaster, Assistant Director, Education, Asia Society
"Develop common goals, objectives and detail the implementation in a well-developed agreement that can serve as a touchstone throughout a project."
Ellie Mitchell, Director, Maryland Out of School Time Network
"Building partnerships is just like building any strong relationship - you have to approach them with a hearty amount of love, humor and humility. It should be twice as much 'what can I do for you?' as 'what will you do for me?'"
Erika Petrelli, Sr. VP of Leadership Development, The Leadership Program
"Get creative! Think about the people in your community and the unique strengths they can bring to your efforts. Consider businesses, public services, schools or colleges, healthcare centers and more."
Megan Halmo, Project Manager, Healthy Kids Out of School
How do you create #PartnershipsWithPurpose?
For breakfast Daniel had coffee and a cup of yogurt with bananas.
Although the facts are alarming, conveying the importance of wellness to children can be challenging. Childhood obesity has almost tripled in children and adolescents in the past 30 years and today approximately one out of three children and adolescents in the United States is overweight or obese. Even more alarming, there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents.
Research shows a strong link between a young person's practice of healthy habits, including a good diet and regular physical activity, and an improvement in their overall life outcomes. Wellness is also an opportunity for children to relate to the larger world and see how their daily experience compares to others. Providing young people with an opportunity to take a leadership role in assessing and taking action on the most critical health issues of their community provides an opportunity for them to not only improve their own personal health, but also contribute to solving some of the world's most pressing issues.
Getting the Conversation Started with a River Made of Tape
Here's a quick activity to start the conversation and help children (and adults) think about the contributing factors to health in their community:
This simple yet effective activity is an interactive way to help students begin to think about the different facets of their community and provides a bridge to many common issues that communities face. Encourage students to think about how these factors change depending on where a person lives. If you have a room of children from different communities, have them compare and share.
As children begin to identify community challenges and opportunities, you can dive deeper and make global connections in each of these topic areas. Below are just a few opportunities.
Food Insecurity and Hunger
One issue to explore is local food access and the connection to the issue of global hunger. Here are a few ways to get started:
Nature and the Environment
A second topic to explore is the relationship between health, nature and environmental issues:
Sport and Youth Development
The availability of organized sports is another topic to consider:
Service Learning and Community Action
As you lead the river activity, encourage students to address the challenges they identify using service learning:
Youth Voice and Dialogue
Wellness education provide a tremendous opportunity to help young people connect with issues that they are passionate about. By helping students understand the far reaching impact of local wellness issues, young people are positioned to raise their voices and take action. From food insecurity to the environment and sport, a multitude of resources and organizations exist to support the effort to help young people think locally and globally.
For breakfast, I had several cups of coffee with toast and an orange.
Our last blog featured 6 Ideas to Make Your Next Staff Meeting Fun and Healthy this Summer. Did you try one of them? Maybe you made "Silly Water" for a retreat or added some physical activity to your regular staff meeting. Building on those tips, here are a few ideas to help you continue to develop healthy and active role models this fall.
Let us know how it goes by tweeting to @HealthierGen.
1. Do you have a fall festival or family event coming up? Kick of your agenda with a short 3-5 minute fitness break! Fit for a Healthier Generation videos feature celebrities like Bob Harper, Billy Blanks, Tara Stiles, and Zumba. This video collection is designed to be a grab-and-go tool for you and will help you show staff, families and children that staying active is a priority for your organization.
2. Research shows that when parents increase physical activity, children increase their activity as well. As you prepare welcome packets to kick off fall programing, print and share handouts like How to Be a Smarter Shopper from Food and Fun.
Expert Tip: Notify families during the registration process that your organization seeks to encourage healthy eating and physical activity.
Expert Tip: If you send a regular family newsletter, include healthy recipes or wellness tips.
3. At your next staff meeting, talk to your team about the importance of setting a good example for children. Ask staff to think about the foods and beverages they bring in and consume. If youth see staff drinking water and snacking on fruits and veggies, a strong message is sent about the importance of good nutrition. Integrate pre-recorded videos from Alliance for a Healthier Generation experts into your next staff development day.
Expert Tip: Consider creating an organizational wellness team to identify National Afterschool Association Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards that could be incorporated into organizational policies or guidelines.
For more resources to help you be an active and healthy role model, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
I had toast, a peach and coffee for breakfast.
Summer is just around the corner and it is typically a time for more casual meetings, new volunteers and summer interns. Motivate your staff and volunteers by trying these ideas for making staff meetings and events fun and healthy. Included are some great ideas from Alliance for a Healthier Generation friends too!
Let us know how it goes and tweet us your ideas using @HealthierGen.
1. Activity keeps us healthy; and healthy employees are more productive, have more energy and manage stress better. Download a set of Staff Fitness Break Cards, print them out and energize your next staff meeting.
2. How often do you eat dessert with your lunch at work? Probably not very often. However, it’s common for desserts and pastries to be served during conferences and large staff gatherings, especially when a restaurant or caterer provides food. Why not serve fruit or other healthful foods that give your staff energy and support their personal wellness goals? Learn about ways to improve employee wellness in the workplace by using the Healthy Wellness Toolkit. Buying snacks? Use the Smart Snacks Calculator to take the guess work out of shopping.
3. When it’s hot, help staff stay hydrated! Buy an inexpensive pitcher or carafe and add cucumber slices, sliced fruit or even frozen blueberries for Silly Water. Encourage everyone to grab a glass of silly water, sometimes called “spa water” and go for a walking discussion. Pair staff, give them a topic of discussion and ask them to return in ten minutes for a report out.
4. How many times have you asked others their opinion and gotten blank stares? Try an activity called Where Do You Stand? Create an imaginary continuum, maybe even post signs that say “Yes” or “No” and have encourage staff to line up according to their preference. Then ask volunteers to share. This activity will get your staff up and moving and lead to a more engaging conversation. (Nancy Peter, Out-of-School Time Resource Center)
5. Do a hat trick! Bring in a fun hat and fill it with icebreaker questions. Have staff choose questions from the hat to set a friendly tone to your next meeting. Perhaps, “What is something funny a child said to you this week?” or “If you had a super power what would it be?” (Alycia Orcena, National AfterSchool Association)
6. Celebrate! During your next meeting, start by asking everyone to pair up and share recent successes. It could be a personal accomplishment or a story about a child or family. This type of discussion will help reinforce the importance of the challenging work you do. (Normandie Nigh, A World Fit for Kids)
We hope you enjoy trying these ideas. For more out-of-school and employee wellness resources, visit healthiergeneration.org.
This entry was written in collaboration with Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH National Healthy Out-of-School Time Advisor, Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Michelle Owens, National Student & Employee Wellness Advisor, Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
For breakfast, Daniel had oatmeal and a skim latte. Michelle had an egg white, spinach and turkey sausage on wheat toast with strawberries.
Out-of-school time providers have the unique opportunity to create environments where healthy eating and physical activity are encouraged. It doesn't matter if you're a before school program, an afterschool program, a summer program, a scouting organization, or a sports team you play a meaningful role in empowering youth to eat better and move more. As you think about your goals for 2014, below are resources and tools you can try throughout the year to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
1. In January, start your year off right by learning about the Healthy Out-of-School Time Framework. Read inspiring success stories of how others have created environments where youth are encouraged to eat healthier and move more.
2. In February, find customized resources to encourage youth to Drink Right, Move More, and Snack Smart by taking the Healthy Kids Out of School Survey.
4. In April, build support and strengthen your capacity by reaching out to your local Parks and Recreationagency or Cooperative Extension. Ask what programming is available and how you can collaborate.
5. In May, learn why Afterschool Meals Matter by signing up for this monthly call which explains federal nutrition reimbursement programs. If you haven't already thought about serving summer meals, the Food Research Action Center can help with that too.
6. In June, try a new AfterSchool Energizer to get children moving and having fun. "As If" is a perfect activity for a rainy day. The Healthy Kids Hub has even more resources for when you're short on space, time, or equipment.
7. In July, "Drink Right" and make sure kids in your program are getting enough water. Read and share Tips to Increasing Water Consumption to promote healthy hydration during the summer.
8. In August, mobilize youth leaders; try holding a walk-through of your building and have youth identify ideas for where positive messages could be shared via posters and pictures. Need a resource? Try the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth-Engagement Guide.
9. In September, start the school year off right by creating a partnership with your local grocery store to help promote healthy snacking. Download the Snack it Up Tool Kit from the Healthy Kids Hub.
10. In October, apply for a mini-grant from Youth Service America to find additional funds to promote health and combat hunger. Don't forget to sign up for the National Service Briefing to stay up to date on youth leadership opportunities.
11. In November, beat the winter blues and get your staff up and moving by using the Fit for a Healthier Generation videos. Try yoga, kick boxing, or even Zumba! The Alliance for a Healthier Generation resource database has even more ideas for indoor and outdoor activities.
12. In December, and all year long, celebrate! Share your successes and challenges with us on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter @healthiergen @healthykidsoos.
This blog entry was written in collaboration by:
Daniel W. Hatcher, National Healthy Out-of-School Time Advisor, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Molly B. Newman, Regisitered Dietitian and Senior Project Manager, Healthy Kids Out of School
For breakfast, Daniel had a cup of black coffee and a piece of toast with jam and butter. Molly, enjoyed a whole wheat muffin, fruit cup and a latte with skim milk.