A project of the Afterschool Alliance
health and wellness

Health & Wellness

Afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs can and do offer physical activity, nutrition, and nutrition education activities that complement and reinforce that healthy meals, structured physical education, and health and nutrition education offered as part of the school day. Your Lights On Afterschool event can raise awareness about the importance of providing programs where kids learn healthful habits for life. Get inspiration for a fun and healthful event!


Health and wellness is a broadly-defined issue area. Think outside the box at your event:

  • Invite families in your program for a meal to showcase healthy recipes and techniques
  • Host an educational fair with games that teach strategies to avoid substance use
  • Spotlight the role of social-emotional learning in health by hosting a workshop to build students' self-esteem or teamwork skills
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Partners for Healthy Kids

This year, your Lights On Afterschool celebration of healthy eating and physical activity can be an event that makes a positive, lasting change in your program. These tools, standards, and partners can help you take big steps toward success.

The best got better: The Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards 2.0 from the National AfterSchool Association provides up-to-date, evidence-based, practical quality standards for providing children with healthy food, drinks, and physical activity in out-of-school time. The standards have been recently refreshed to be more user-friendly and practical, with revamped details and recommendations for offering the best of health and wellness programming to young people.

A little help from your friends: To get more ideas on supporting health and wellness in your program, become a leader with the Voices Action Center, a group of peers actively working in their communities to change policies and environments to promote childhood health. Check out their OST-specific toolkit and the new message wheel.

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Celebrate Afterschool Meals

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

  • Grab a menu from the 2018 USDA meals designed for afterschool programs from CACFP and serve it at your event. (Offering food is a tried-and-true way to boost event attendance!)
  • Hold a recipe challenge: ask parents and kids to submit their favorite healthy 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.
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Planning a Healthy Lights On Afterschool with the Pros

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.

Watch the webinar