The mission of the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) is to foster development, provide education and encourage advocacy for the out-of-school-time (OST) community. Since their adoption of Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) in OST, NAA has taken a stand to demonstrate that a quality afterschool site is a healthy afterschool site.
With 10.2 million children attending afterschool programs, NAA is working to ensure administrators and front-line staff have the training necessary to provide children with nutritious food, engaging enrichment and fun physical activity.
NAA is a member of the National Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition leadership team which works together to drive the healthy afterschool movement. NAA also serves as a member of the Voices for Healthy Kids OST Consortium.
In addition, NAA has utilized their annual convention, one of the largest convenings of expanded learning and out-of-school time practitioners as a platform to educate professionals on best practices and convene champions for healthy out-of-school time.
NAA advancement of healthy OST is making an impact at the state level. State affiliates including those in Florida, New Jersey, Oregon and South Dakota have all provided professional development to their members through conferences and virtual trainings.
In particular, the Executive Director of the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities (NJSACC), Diane Genco, made a recent state conference theme “Health and Wellness,” which included an entire track on nutrition and physical activity and trainings provided by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. NJSACC also leveraged the expertise of HOST Coalition member CANFIT to create a healthy snack guide designed to help afterschool organizations, families and communities serve, create and educate youth about healthy snacks and meals.
From developing tools and resources aligned with the National Standards to providing training opportunities to empower staff, NAA and its affiliates are demonstrating that all afterschool programs, no matter their focus, should embrace their role as an active player in children’s health.