Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Before and after School Programming

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Before and after School Programming

Article excerpt

Promoting active lifestyles for children

RECENTLY, stakeholders from several disciplines came together at the Weight of the Nation Conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to discuss the rising obesity epidemic. Several ideas were presented to reduce rising obesity rates. Many of these ideas can be found in the recent report "Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention," published by the Institute of Medicine and available at Park and recreation agencies were identified at the conference as leaders in fighting the obesity epidemic due to their ability to help increase physical activity levels of children by delivering programs which improve their overall health.

Specifically, park and recreation agencies have a unique opportunity to provide programs that help children increase their physical activity levels and improve nutrition in before/afterschool programs. Quality before/afterschool programs are critical because they provide much needed opportunities for growth, learning, and fun. Children who participate are in a safe environment where they can do a variety of activities, including study, exercise, and learn. Below are five innovative programs that highlight unique partnerships and activities in before/afterschool programs at park and recreation agencies across the country.

Henderson, Nevada

Henderson, Nevada (a growing community of 270,000 located in the Las Vegas area), began addressing obesity and improving physical activity of residents with the development of the "Healthy Henderson" program in 2003. Specifically, they have implemented a program known as "Safekey," which is part of CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health). This is a partnership between the city and the Southern Nevada Health District.

The program features a combination of holding educational sessions on nutrition, serving healthy snacks, and providing 30 minutes of physical activity Children increase their physical activity through play, burn calories, increase their metabolism, and are encouraged to make good nutritional choices. Since the program was incorporated in August 2011, over four million minutes of physical activity have been completed, eliminating over 1,515 pounds of fat. One child lost over 13 pounds.

San Clemente, California

The City of San Clemente, California, has a unique af-terschool program, "Fun on the Run," which is a free mobile recreation program that travels to neighborhood parks in the city, providing an unlimited amount of activities and sports to children ages 4 to 11, The truck is equipped with sports equipment, board games, jump ropes, hula-hoops, arts and crafts, and much more. Every month there are visits from various community partners including the Orange County SheriffDepartment, firemen, lifeguards, and the Orange County Health Department. These organizations visit the sites to empower kids with the knowledge to make healthy choices. Program stafflead and conduct games, crafts, and various sports. Aiming to teach the community's children about living healthy lives and making good decisions, staffteach the participants about the importance of eating healthy, staying active, and the benefits of following the USDA dietary guidelines.

Along with mobile recreation, Fun on the Run supports an elementary school sports program, Goal Zone Sports. Goal Zone Sports is a low-cost sports program that allows kids in grades 1 through 5 to learn a variety of sports, including basketball, soccer, and flag football. The program emphasizes skill development, proper nutrition and health, and fun. …

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