Youth development professionals come from many backgrounds and work in a variety of settings. They can be childcare providers, camp leaders, afterschool professionals or even volunteers with little to no background in development or education.
Jessica Hay, California Afterschool Network program director, recently had the opportunity to discuss the National Afterschool Association (NAA) Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards (HEPA) during a Lights on Afterschool webinar, and offer some tips for incorporating them into family and community events such as Lights On Afterschool.
Over the years, one of the biggest and most consistent concerns and struggles I've heard from program administrators concerns how to engage parents and families. Many times, program staff reach out and get limited response or involvement.
When Jackie Cushman's daughter started kindergarten in fall 2014, she attended an afterschool program and came home every night with awesome projects and stories to share. Jackie noticed two things: first, her daughter would enthusiastically list facts about a new theme each week; second, her daughter was learning a lot by having a lot of fun.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—the subjects called STEM—continue to be a major focal point in education. This urgent focus on STEM came from the growing concern that education was not providing the building blocks necessary for students to achieve successful future employment in an increasingly technical world.
Out-of-school time providers are in a unique position to support or hinder healthy eating and physical activity for youth.