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Building Healthier Kids through YMCA Afterschool

By Abigail Weaver

Building Healthier Kids  through YMCA AfterschoolSummer is moving quickly, which means it’s time to start thinking about where your kids might need to be in the afternoons during the school year! As the short summer comes to a close, parents often find themselves looking for a safe, engaging, and fun option for their kids during those after school hours.  At Y Afterschool, kids have the opportunity to experience physical and engaging activities that encourage them to make friends, have fun, and get active!

In fact, a specific focus of Afterschool is to holistically nurture child development.  Several years ago, in response to a call by former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), the Y, nationally, committed to adopting new standards for nutrition and physical activity for the more than 700,000 kids in our early childhood and afterschool programs.

The Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards established through the Y include: a minimum of expected physical activity daily, designating water as the primary beverage during snack times, offering fruits and vegetables as snack options, limiting the amount of screen time, and conducting parent education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.  In Kingsport, these standards have translated to exceeding that minimum of physical activity, water for snack time, fresh fruit once per week and healthier snacks every day, screen time ONLY for middle school and limited to homework purposes, and utilizing the parent resources given by the standards in order to give them take-home tools for healthy success.

The way the Kingsport YMCA implements these standards is by following the Food & Fun Afterschool Curriculum, which supports nutrition, physical activity, and parent connectedness.  Our kids learn how to read food labels, what healthy fats are, play different games and activities to allow them to have fun and move without feeling like they’re exercising.

They will learn how to “be cool” by drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated in the best way.  What about sugar?  We teach kids to be aware of the amount of sugar they are consuming in every day foods and drinks, why it’s important and ways they can find alternatives to sugar filled foods.

The Y seeks to empower our youth to understand they have choices to make every day to form healthy habits.  Food and Fun teaches them how to pick healthier snacks, alerts them to benefits of avoiding too much screen time, and gives them ideas of how to stay active without being bored.  Once the kids start to embrace the ideas, the newsletters and handouts the Y provides to our Afterschool parents will guide them towards implementation, arming them with recipes, tips on buying healthy snacks on a budget, creative ways to incorporate physical activity and better screen time habits.

Of course, the Y is focusing on building healthier kids and is using these resources to help the process, but Afterschool also focuses on more than just physical health. Through guided play, children learn to respect themselves and others, work out their differences, and discover the value of friendship. Our staff place much value on getting to know each child and investing in their needs.  Whether it be through a community service project, a group project or game, or a special Afterschool guest, kids are encouraged to explore their interests, build their confidence and learn more about their community and fellow Y kids.  We desire to encourage the potential of every Y kid in spirit, mind and body.

The Kingsport Y’s Afterschool programs, open to children in grades K-8, are held
in 11 host schools- 9 elementary and 2 middle schools!  This means they are with familiar kids in a familiar environment.  Let us help you build healthier kids!

For more information regarding enrollment:
YMCA Wellmont Center | Greater Kingsport Family YMCA
1840 Meadowview Pkwy | Kingsport, TN 37660 | | 423.247.9622

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