By Robert Abare
By 2020, at least 5 million children will attend afterschool or summer learning programs that have committed to implementing new physical activity standards, according to the Partnership for a Healthier America.
This promising trend is occurring largely thanks to the National AfterSchool Association’s (NAA) creation and promotion of new Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, according to a new study released by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time and RTI International. The NAA’s HEPA standards were designed to help out-of-school time programs work to prevent childhood obesity and keep kids nourished, healthy and active.
The study, Monitoring the Uptake of National Afterschool Association Physical Activity Standards, compares findings from previous reports and surveys to analyze the rate of out-of-school time providers adopting the NAA physical activity standards into their programming. The report notes research by the Afterschool Alliance showing that more than 10 million U.S. children participate in afterschool programs—almost half of which come from low-income households—which makes these programs a valuable setting for promoting healthy habits among America’s kids.
The report also notes that "large national organizations including Y USA, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, National Recreation and Park Association, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America have integrated the [NAA’s HEPA] standards (in whole or in part) into sizable programmatic initiatives.”
The report continues, “In addition, states have considered regulations that include adaptations of the standards, with legislation enacted in California in 2014 and efforts underway in other states including Florida, South Carolina and Texas.”
These initiatives to implement the NAA’s HEPA standards at the programmatic and state level are helping to create broad, uniform improvements in the health of our nation’s children.
You can download the full report through Active Living Research. You can also join a network of youth service professionals seeking to curb America’s rising rates of childhood obesity by becoming a Leader on PreventObesity.net.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act”, a bipartisan bill updating Perkins career and technical education (CTE) legislation, which was last authorized in 2006. The proposed update includes many positive changes that recognize and support the work afterschool and summer providers are doing to help students enter the workforce prepared and ready for well-paid, in-demand careers.
Main tenets of the bipartisan bill
The 2016 legislation focuses on providing students with opportunities to pursue recognized postsecondary credentials that are aligned with the employment needs of the surrounding economy, especially in high-skill, high-wage careers.
The bill is friendly to afterschool in many areas. The bill recognizes the important role that afterschool plays in planning CTE offerings and the benefits of including community-based partners as active participants in that planning. The bill language includes community based organizations explicitly as eligible entities (capable of receiving funding). Afterschool is at the table!
The bill also allows career exploration and other activities to be allowable starting as early as the 5th grade (the previous limit was 7th grade). The bill supports STEM learning for underrepresented students, and career pathways for non-traditional careers, such as girls in computer science. The bill draws out the role of competency based education (digital badges, for example) in local CTE programs. The bill continues to mention the importance of employability skills, many of which overlap with social and emotional learning. And the bill also establishes an “Innovation Grant Program,” which reserves 25 percent of an initial $7.5 million allocation for specific programs, including partnerships with non-profits.
The bill is still heavily focused on a tripod of secondary education, post-secondary institutions, and businesses as the main players, however. This focus means that entities that do not fall into these three categories must ask to get a seat at the planning table. These entities include community-based programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (which will include workforce development as an allowable use when the Every Student Succeeds Act goes into effect next year), and other afterschool and summer providers working on employability skills and career pathways. As these entities are eligible for funding, this ask should not be too difficult. Additionally, groups that serve out of school or at-risk youth often are included, so the avenues for becoming involved in the planning process are many.
While the House has completed its proposal for revising the CTE law, the Senate has yet to unveil its plan, and the road to enactment isn’t entirely clear, given that legislators are about to leave Washington, D.C. until September. As a result of this timetable, there is still time for feedback and modification. Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the House bill. Talking with your state CTE state director is another way to learn more about the current law and develop relationships around the work you are doing to prepare students for excellent, in-demand careers.
With election day just four months away, most adults say they are more likely to vote for a candidate committed to investing in effective child and youth well-being policies, according to a new national poll conducted by Hart Research on behalf of the Children’s Leadership Council. More than three in five adults—representing every age, race, income and education level across the country—want the next president and Congress to invest more federal funds in afterschool, child nutrition, child health and education programs for children, according to the poll findings.
By overwhelming margins, the poll found that Americans say the nation’s children would be better off if government did more to support parents and families, and that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who would commit to policies that advance children’s well-being. In particular, the poll found the highest support among millennials, regardless of party.
Here are the specifics of Americans' widespread support for investing in our future
- 70 percent of Americans believe children would be better off if government did more to support parents and families.
- 63 percent of Americans favor increasing funding for programs and services to meet children’s needs.
- A majority of Americans say they are more likely to support someone who commits to making child well-being policies a priority, especially in the areas of: child abuse and family violence (75 percent); child poverty and hunger (71 percent); child health care coverage (67 percent); college affordability (66 percent), and child care and early education (58 percent).
With regard to afterschool programs, the poll echoed previous election year polls on the value that the public places on afterschool programs:
- 63 percent of parents said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
- 67 percent of mothers said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
- 67 percent of millennials said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
- 77 percent of African Americans said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making expanding afterschool programs and summer learning opportunities priorities if elected.
The Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of nearly 60 of the nation’s leading child and youth advocacy organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, commissioned Hart Research Associates to conduct the poll. The poll used telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 Americans age 18 and older across the country, including 595 parents of children under age 18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
By Erin Murphy
The Afterschool Alliance is excited to announce a new blog series focusing on law enforcement and afterschool partnerships! As juvenile justice reform gains more attention from the afterschool field, this series highlights how afterschool and law enforcement are partnering to keep kids out of jail and strengthen communities. Throughout the rest of the year, we will be sharing themed blogs that highlight many aspects of these partnerships, such as motivations for partnering, building relationships, highlights from city-systems, outcomes and recommendations for getting started. Additionally, we will share stories from some of our favorite partnerships as part of the Afterschool Spotlight series.
In this first blog of the series, we will go deep on one component of many afterschool programs: mentoring. While common in many programs, mentoring seems to be especially prevalent in programs that focus on fostering stronger police & youth relations. Last week, the U.S. Senate law enforcement caucus recognized the importance of mentoring by hosting a Congressional briefing on youth mentoring. The goal was to discuss the role law enforcement can play in mentoring youth and share examples of law enforcement initiatives that have led to successful youth mentoring programs in their communities.
Chief Jim Bueermann, President, Police Foundation. While working at the Redlands Police Department, Chief Bueermann developed a mentoring program that supported high schoolers in exploring law enforcement careers and becoming officers.
Donald Northcross, Founder, OK Program. Northcross developed the OK program in 1990 while working as a Deputy Sheriff at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. This is a mentoring and leadership program where law enforcement officers partner with African-American men to support African-American boys.
Orrin White, Assistant Director of Community Engagement, United Way of Delaware. Inspired by challenges African-American youth faced throughout Delaware, White initiated We are the Why. This program allowed youth to work with officers to learn about law enforcement, discuss issues in their communities, and develop ways to improve law enforcement-community relations.
These speakers shared their knowledge and experiences related to program development and gaining community support. and the amazing outcomes these programs provide students, officers and their community. They also highlighted outcomes of their partnerships and provided recommendations for building and maintaining strong partnerships.
|"These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth."|
- The most significant outcome of these programs was the development of relationships between participating youth and law enforcement. These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth. Northcross shared how relationships transformed through the OK program. “At the beginning there is tension in the room when officers enter, but by the end youth are high-fiving and hugging officers.”
- Both youth and officers gained new insight on how to interact in the community to reduce misunderstanding and distrust. White emphasized this, stating, “it’s important that officers are able to see how they are perceived by the community and learn from this.”
- In established programs, youth participants are graduating high school and giving back to their communities directly—with many youth even becoming officers themselves.
By Luci Manning
George Washington Middle School students received the red carpet treatment at the eighth annual Make a Difference Film Festival last week. Students in the school’s afterschool club created nine short films to enter in the festival, each of which focused on the event’s making-a-difference theme. Representatives from the student newspaper took paparazzi photos and conducted red carpet interviews, and some of the non-actors even stood in as security guards. “Students ran the whole thing because it makes them feel empowered that they have an important role in a major project the school does,” sixth grade social studies teacher and festival organizer Mary Lou Handy told NorthJersey.com.
Community-based startup incubator Domi Station has partnered with Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School to bring a computer science afterschool program to students on Tallahassee’s south side. The program is modeled after a program in Melbourne, using code cracking and the Minecraft game to get students interested in a future in technology. The ultimate goal, according to Domi community manager Lucas Lindsey, is to increase diversity in entrepreneurship and tech. “It’s become clear that we need to create opportunities for people in all parts of our community,” Lindsey told the Tallahassee Democrat.
The Long Island Lesson Program has brought string instrument music instruction back to the Copiague School District for the first time in 30 years. Thanks to the nonprofit D’Addario Foundation, about 20 students are receiving 6 hours of after school cello, viola and violin lessons, learning about responsibility, dedication and perseverance at the same time. “We really believe that music has the extraordinary ability to improve their cognitive and social development,” D’Addario Foundation executive director Suzanne D’Addario Brouder told Newsday.
The Sacramento Bee editorial board argues for more dedicated funding for summer learning programs: “Try as Sacramento City Council members might, they just can’t seem to cobble together enough money to consistently fund programs for kids…. Going forward, the City Council must make it a priority to carve out a bigger, more reliable source of funding…. Currently, the city spends only about 1 percent of its general fund on youth programs. Such activities to keep teens busy, particularly in the idle days of summer, are important for Sacramento. After all, according to some accounts, violent crime is rising faster here than in many cities across the country…. It’s time to make Sacramento youths a priority.”
With summer 2016 in full swing, summer learning programs are again gearing up, and more than just minds will be filled before school starts up again in the fall. Once again, millions of children will receive meals through the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meals program: ensuring that kids are nourished and healthy while they explore, learn and grow this summer.
Earlier this month, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released its latest Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation report, finding that summer nutrition programs nationally saw a modest increase of 11,000 participants from July 2014 to 2015. These numbers come after three years of significant program growth. According to the report, on an average day in July 2015, summer nutrition programs served lunch to nearly 3.2 million children across the country, equaling 15.8 low-income children participating for every 100 that receive a free or reduced-price lunch. The report again points to the challenges that summer learning programs face in operating the Summer Meals program and the barriers to participation for many families.
One way to improve these numbers, according to the FRAC report, is through Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation currently being debated by Congress. The Afterschool Alliance supports a key proposal that can be included in the legislation, streamlining meal programs by allowing sponsors to provide food year-round, rather than in two separate programs during the school year and summer.
Summer learning providers are also a key player in boosting participation in the program. Currently it is too early to see how the numbers will translate to Summer 2016, but this is the time to build momentum. To find smart strategies for closing the hunger gap and increasing participation in summer meal programs, check out the USDA’s wide range of new and updated materials to make summer learning and summer meals better than ever in 2016.
By Robert Abare
Written by Kellie May, Senior Program Manager for the National Recreation and Park Association
Park and Recreation Month is almost here! The annual monthly celebration encourages all people to get out and experience the benefits of parks and recreation: from health and wellness to conservation efforts and everything in between.
This year, Park and Recreation Month occurs during #SuperJuly, a celebration of the super heroes and super powers of parks and recreation. We’ve had a lot of fun planning this July’s activities, because it’s not hard to find all of the ways in which parks and recreation acts like a community super hero. From protecting our environment to providing safe places for all people to come together and get healthy, parks and recreation does a lot.
Partners like you help us make Park and Recreation Month a success and we hope you can help us as we encourage everyone to get out and experience the benefits of their local parks and recreation this July. Here’s how:
- Include mention of Park and Recreation Month in newsletters and other communications (blog, social media, emails). Encourage your readers to find out more information at the National Recreation and Park Association website. Our team is happy to provide content if you’d like.
- Use the attached sample social media posts and images to start spreading the word now through the end of July.
- Download and post the web graphics and/or logo to your websites, social media platforms or include in your communications to show your support.
- Encourage your network (even your colleagues) to participate in the #SuperParkSelfie weekly photo contest.
There is even more information available at the National Recreation and Park Association website. Feel free to download, print, share and use any of the materials and to tag us in any of your social media posts with the hashtags #SuperJuly, or post a selfie as you celebrate next month with #SuperParkSelfie.
Sample Tweets for National Park and Recreation Month
- Join @NRPA_News this July in celebrating the super powers of parks and recreation for Park & Rec Month! #SuperJuly http://ow.ly/NCA6U
- Join the Park and Rec Brigade and find your super powers at your park this July. #SuperJuly http://ow.ly/XHfZ3016OcU
- Show @NRPA_News your #SuperParkSelfie! Join in the photo contest for a chance to win a $500 gift card! www.nrpa.org/July-Contest #SuperJuly
By Robert Abare
Summer is here! Although school is out, summer learning programs are making sure kids are continuing to learn new things, make academic strides, and stay physically active. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) encourages communities across the country to celebrate the importance of summer learning programs on National Summer Learning Day: July 14, 2016. Visit the NSLA website to find an event near you, register your event to appear on a national map of Summer Learning day events, or explore summer learning resources for families or communities.
New book makes the case that Summers Matter
The founder of the NSLA, Matthew Boulay, PhD, helped kick off this year’s National Summer Learning Day with the release of a new book, Summers Matter: 10 Things Every Parent, Teacher, & Principal Should Know About June, July, & August. The book is the first to explore the “summer learning gap,” or the challenge of providing educational and engaging activities for kids during the summer months when school is out.
"How do we keep our children safe and supervised when schools are closed but adults still have to work? How do we preserve the academic gains that children achieved during the school year?” asks Boulay. “The good news is that researchers have quietly amassed a mountain of evidence documenting why summers matter and what we can do as parents and educators to help our children during the months when schools are closed.”
Summers Matter translates the most compelling research into accessible tips and guidance for parents and school leaders on how they can integrate summer learning programs into their communities, regardless of income or access. Proceeds from the book support the NSLA.
Boulay added, “We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what our children do during their summers has a long-term and significant impact on their academic achievement and life chances."