Get Healthy Now
Dear Afterschool Program Provider,
Welcome! We have designed the Get Healthy Now manual as a starting place for afterschool programs that seek to improve the nutrition and physical fitness of their students and afterschool communities. It is more than a conventional curriculum. In addition to activities to do with children, Get Healthy Now includes background information, a glossary, family outreach materials, staff wellness suggestions, a program self-assessment tool and a resource list.
Afterschool settings are natural places for children to receive messages about healthy eating and physical activity. After the school day, it’s often in an afterschool program that children have time to run around and have a snack, in addition to getting help with homework or participating in structured activities. In today’s culture and environment, children have less opportunity than their parents and grandparents to participate in physical activity during after school hours.
Today, parents are more often at work, neighborhoods feel less safe, and children are more likely to sit in front of a television or computer than ever before. Even if children are not overweight now, the lack of regular physical activity, and the dependence on prepackaged snacks that tend to be high in fat, salt, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, are contributing to unhealthy lifestyles that will certainly increase risks of chronic diseases at a later age. We are pleased you have joined the ranks of those working to reverse this trend – this curriculum is a resource that will help and support your efforts!
There are two points of entry into the program manual. The first is to simply turn to the section entitled Getting Started with Children to read the Welcome to Get Healthy Now section, and to review the activities which are divided into 4 chapters — Healthy Eating, Smart Choices, Media in Moderation, and Fitness Fun .Within each section, activities are arranged from basic to more advanced, although they can be done in any order based on the needs and resources of your program.
The second place where you may start is the Afterschool Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-assessment Tool (AS_PANSAT). This tool is designed to engage your community in thinking about your afterschool program environment and what changes will support and even inspire healthier nutrition choices and increased physical activity. The staff wellness and resource sections that follow provide ideas for improvements you can make over time.
The program manual is designed for you to start down both paths at once. Leading activities with children may inspire you to think about your environment differently, and which activities to introduce to your students. With either option you will increase your own knowledge and understanding of healthy food choices and the importance of regular physical activity, both for yourself and for others in your program and community. We hope you will find this curriculum helpful, flexible, and useful!
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
Boston Medical Center