Healthy Kids Out of School works with out-of-school programs to promote healthy snacks, beverages, and opportunities for physical activity.
Millions of children participate in out-of-school time (OST) programs every day, with representation from a variety of racial/ethnic groups, income levels, regions, and ages. The broad and diverse population of children participating in OST programs presents a promising area for obesity prevention efforts. With significant variability in the types of foods and beverages served and the physical activity programming offered in these programs, there is an opportunity to provide consistency to support healthy habits for children who learn and thrive in these environments.
The Healthy Kids Out of School (HKOS) initiative convened nine national CEOs and executive directors from the country’s leading OST organizations to develop three guiding principles from a list of evidence-based recommendations that address nutrition and physical activity in OST environments. These principles were selected because they are universally adaptable, actionable, and simple to implement:
• Drink Right: Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages;
• Move More: Boost movement and physical activity in all programs; and
• Snack Smart: Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.
By integrating these principles into their organizational policies, these leaders have established a model of healthier defaults for the tens of millions of children they collectively serve, making the healthy choice the easy choice. The HKOS team also gathered feedback from staff and volunteers working directly with children in OST programs to understand the key barriers to offering healthy snacks and increasing opportunities for physical activity, which they identified as cost and access. To address these issues, HKOS is developing a robust web-based tool called the Healthy Kids Hub that will connect staff and volunteers to resources, tools and training materials to help them effectively implement the three principles. The website is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2013 at HealthyKidsHub.org.
Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180, is a natural progression of Tufts University’s decades of work targeting large-scale community change around nutrition and obesity prevention. ChildObesity180 takes an evidence-based, national view of obesity to objectively determine the best opportunities to execute impactful initiatives.
ChildObesity180 is led by renowned childhood obesity researcher Christina Economos, PhD. Under the direction of Dr. Economos, the national initiative is managed by Molly Newman, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with a decade of project management experience and expertise in both health communication and childhood obesity treatment. Supporting the team as the national initiative coordinator is Heather Angstrom, MS, who has five years’ experience in health communications.