By 2020, at least 5 million children will attend afterschool or summer learning programs that have committed to implementing new physical activity standards, according to the Partnership for a Healthier America.
This promising trend is occurring thanks, in large part, to the National AfterSchool Association’s (NAA) creation and promotion of new Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, according to a new study released by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time and RTI International. The NAA’s HEPA standards were designed to help out-of-school time programs work to prevent childhood obesity and keep kids nourished, healthy and active.
The study, Monitoring the Uptake of National Afterschool Association Physical Activity Standards, compares findings from previous reports and surveys to analyze the rate of out-of-school time providers adopting the NAA HEPA standards into their programming. The report notes research by the Afterschool Alliance showing that more than 10 million U.S. children participate in afterschool programs—almost half of which come from low-income households—which makes these programs a valuable setting for promoting healthy habits among America’s kids.
The report also notes that "large national organizations including Y USA, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, National Recreation and Park Association, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America have integrated the [NAA’s HEPA] standards (in whole or in part) into sizable programmatic initiatives.”
The report continues, “In addition, states have considered regulations that include adaptations of the standards, with legislation enacted in California in 2014 and efforts underway in other states including Florida, South Carolina and Texas.”
The Afterschool Alliance has been working with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, to advocate for state policies that encourage HEPA implementation and systematically promote children’s health and wellness. Efforts by local advocates, policy makers and national organizations to increase access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities are helping to create broad, uniform improvements in the health of our nation’s children.
You can download the full report through Active Living Research. You can also join a network of youth service professionals seeking to create an environment when all kids can grow up at a healthy weight by becoming a Leader on PreventObesity.net.