More than 10 million children around the country participate in, and benefit from, out-of-school time programs, including before and after-school care, weekend, and summer programs. Providing more than just a safe and supervised environment, these programs can play a key role in helping improve kids’ overall health. In fact, providers of out-of-school time programs and parents agree that kids should have healthier food options and more opportunities for physical activity when they are outside the classroom. It doesn’t just make their bodies healthier, it helps them perform and behave better in school, too.
That’s why the National AfterSchool Association adopted clear and consistent standards for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA). However, for many out-of-school time program providers, it may be difficult to know how to implement these standards or they lack the adequate resources to do so.
We need to prepare our kids for a lifetime of wellness, and helping improve the nutritional and physical activity offerings of out-of-school time programs is a great place to start.
Together, with providers, parents, local policy makers, students, and other members of the community, we can create out-of-school time programs that keep kids on a healthy path. That is where this toolkit comes in. Use the information and resources here to support healthy changes in your community—and to advocate for changes at the state level that will guarantee that all kids have access to healthy food and opportunities to be physically active even when school is out of session.
Voices for Healthy Kids is dedicated to making sure out-of-school time programs are places that support the wellness of all children – no matter where they live or what out-of-school time program they are in. It’s good for their health now and in the future. And that is good for all of us.