Health & Wellness

Afterschool and summer programs provide a natural space to encourage healthy lifestyles. Your Lights On Afterschool event can raise awareness about the importance of providing programs where kids learn healthful habits for life. Check out these resources to help plan a fun and healthful event!

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in US have tripled, and approximately one in three children ages two to 19 is overweight, and 17% are obese. Despite efforts to lessen health inequities, racial and ethnic disparities persist. With 10 million children attending out of school programs, out-of-school time programs are uniquely positioned to be an important part of the childhood obesity solution. These ideas can help you use your Lights On Afterschool celebration to shine a spotlight on your program's role in keeping kids active and healthy!

Watch the Webinar

Are you looking for ways to make sure that your Lights On Afterschool event showcases how afterschool programs can keep kids healthy and active by incorporating the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards? In this webinar, we aimed to make sure that you have all the ideas, tools, and resources you need to plan an event that shows the important role that afterschool programs play in keeping kids healthy and active before and after the school bell rings.

We were joined by Jessica Hay, Program Director at the California Afterschool Network, and Lindsey Jorstad, Health & Wellness Coordinator at Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation in Georgia, who provided some great tips, suggestions and insights on how to incorporate health and physical activity themes in your event. Together, we can make America’s youth healthier!

Celebrate Afterschool Meals

Afterschool meals help reduce childhood hunger and promote a healthy weight. At your Lights On event:

  • Serve a nutritious meal based on the newly-released USDA meal patterns. Serving food is a tried-and-true way to boost event attendance!
  • Encourage parents and kids to take the No Kid Hungry pledge.
  • Hold a recipe challenge: ask parents and kids to submit their favorite afterschool meal and offer the winning submission a small prize.

To make sure the children in your program are receiving healthy meals throughout all year long, check out these USDA programs geared toward out-of-school time programs!

  • The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill the nutrition gap left in the summer months and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.
  • The At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program helps give children and teenagers the nutrition they need while drawing them into afterschool programs like yours that are safe, fun, and filled with opportunities for learning.
  • The Afterschool Snack Program can be operated by school nutrition departments through the National School Lunch Program.
Nickelodeon Worldwide Day of Play

Each fall, Nickelodeon goes completely dark for their Worldwide Day of Play, a day full of activities, games, sports, music and PLAY! That means shutting down their website and all regularly-scheduled television programs to encourage kids everywhere to get outside and have fun.

Here are some fun ideas for celebrating the Worldwide Day of Play at your Lights On Afterschool event:

  • Hold a dance party
  • Organize a relay race
  • Take a nature walk
  • Set up an obstacle course

Each year, Nickelodeon highlights Worldwide Day of Play events around the country by featuring events on air. Your active Lights On Afterschool event could be featured if you register by September 5, 2016! Just be sure to check off the Worldwide Day of Play box when you register.

Commit to Health Year-Round

The Afterschool Alliance proudly supports the afterschool National Afterschool Assication’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards, which provide up-to-date, evidence-based, practical quality standards for providing children with healthy food, drinks and physical activity in out-of-school time. Use your Lights On Afterschool event to make a commitment to address these standards, beginning with a celebration of movement at your event!

To get more ideas on supporting health & wellness in your program, join the PreventObesity.Net Leader Program, a group of peers actively working in their communities to change policies and environments to reverse childhood obesity. Join the community today.

Ideas to Celebrate Health & Wellness
Theme: Health and Wellness
Planning: 3 Weeks
Difficulty: Intermediate

Youth Talent Show & Healthy Living Expo

In celebration of Lights On Afterschool, Higher Learning Academy hosted a community event on October 22nd from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. The event featured a talent show, a Scholastic book fair, a dance routine and numerous booths. The talent show included 15 student acts ranging from dance numbers to vocal performances. As part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, students and teachers performed the “Let’s Move” dance routine in order to spread awareness of the campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Additionally, there were several health-focused booths sponsored by afterschool programs, including a California Champions booth that informed families on healthy living and a Health Education Council booth that dressed up kids as fruits and vegetables. At other booths, participants enjoyed face painting, played carnival games and entered raffles to win prizes. The event featured refreshments and a DJ. As many as 200 people attended the celebration.

Audiences: Funders, Parents, Media, School/Ed Leaders
Theme: Health and Wellness
Planning: 6 Weeks
Difficulty: Beginner

Youth Run for Afterschool

Students from across Fargo, ND, participated in the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties' 1K Youth Run on October 22nd from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Before the race, the children decorated motivational signs and lightbulbs to place along the route. The kids wore eye-catching outfits and did a “crazy” warm-up before they start running, and afterwards each site took a group picture together. The run took place at Island Park and as many as 1,200 children participated.

Audiences: Parents, Media, School/Ed Leaders
Theme: Health and Wellness
Planning: 5 Weeks
Difficulty: Intermediate

American Ninja Warrior Features Student-Designed Courses, Local Leaders

On October 23rd from 5:00 to 9:30 PM, California Teaching Fellows put on a kid-friendly version of American Ninja Warrior at Desmond Middle School in honor of Lights On Afterschool. First- through 12th-grade students from 23 different schools in the Madera Unified School District competed with their peers to complete a timed obstacle course designed by the participating schools. Each school submitted their proposed obstacle course designs to the program in advance of the event to prevent duplicates and to ensure safety. The winning student received a trophy designed by other students. The event also featured a display of student artwork and performances. More than 1,000 people attended, including Superintendent Dr. Barbara L. Parkins, Chief Academic Officers Elizabeth Runyon and Todd Lile, members of the Madera Police Force and representatives from the Office of Parks and Recreation and the Madera Arts Council.

Audiences: Policy Makers, Parents, Media, School/Ed Leaders