March 28, 2016

Not just a learning environment, a living environment

Seat Pleasant Activity Center is the hub of its community. It’s the place kids go when they are not at home and not at school.

Seat Pleasant is not just a place for afterschool time, or before sports time, or on the way back home time — it’s family time. Staff at Seat Pleasant are not strangers. They knew the kids they work with before they even joined the program and they will continue to know them after they leave the program.

Seat Pleasant isn’t in the business of filling time or simply keeping a recreation facility open, they are in the business of changing lives.

As a parks and recreation facility, Seat Pleasant is what we call an out-of-school time setting and is part of our Healthy Out-of-School Time Initiative. Out-of-school time settings are where kids come from neighborhood to play, eat, move and build friendships with peers and adults. They are learning environments as well as living environments. They are places where kids have a safe place to go, move a little more and get a warm meal.

Seat Pleasant sees every chance they have with the kids at the program as an opportunity to teach them how to live their best lives inside and outside of their program.

That’s why kids not only get a healthy meal at Seat Pleasant but also learn about how that healthy meal helps fuel them to live and learn.

"We don’t know, outside of here, if students are getting the meals they need. And not only if they are getting those meals, but if they are getting the proper meals they need. It’s extremely important that we provide these healthy meals because this may be the only meal they may have throughout that day,” says Melvin McCray, Director of Kids Care at Seat Pleasant Activity Center

Seat Pleasant looks at offering more nutritious options for theirs kids as the first stroke to painting a larger more vibrant picture. Bright colored fruits strewn about a table look beautiful, but will kids actually eat them? If you are at Seat Pleasant, the answer is yes.

Nutrition starts with identifying a need. Kids are hungry after school. Staff at Seat Pleasant noticed kids were taking their couple bucks and buying fries, loading them up with ketchup and then coming to their program after they ate.

That is not enough dinner to satisfy a growing kid, so Seat Pleasant started to invite kids to come hungry and leave fed after a healthy meal. But “healthy” meals don’t always stack up to the ketchup covered fries when it comes to kids’ taste buds. So Seat Pleasant got creative. Fruit kabobs? Check. Freshly blended smoothies? Check. How about a regularly updated menu that kids run to go read what’s for dinner every day? Check and check.

Every program has limited resources, limited time, and limited budget. But it is those variables that are unlimited that truly impact a child’s life — the innovation, care and commitment from the adults who make sure kids are not just healthy and happy today, but also learning how to be so for a lifetime.

"You can see it physically. You can see the body change within the kids. You can see it. It’s a direct correlation. I believe in the healthy eating and how you work in school. I think it’s a direct correlation on how kids test. You know they’re eating healthier, they’re more alert. You can see the energy level in the kids increase, they’re more active, and they’re asking more questions about how they can be healthier," says McCray 

Seat Pleasant is just one of the thousands of out-of-school time sites we work with to create healthier environments for kids. Help us continue to support their work with a donation today.

Make a donation.

Join our Healthy Out-of-School Time Initiative.

Daniel Hatcher

Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships | Alliance for a Healthier Generation