Among the millions of children in our neighborhoods, poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles cause serious health problems, lead to social and psychological problems, and limit academic achievement. Childhood obesity now ranks as the #1 health concern for children and young people in the United States.
Tackling childhood obesity isn’t as simple as changing what they eat in school. That certainly has a huge impact on the child’s health. But what they eat before and after school, and what they do or don’t do in their free time can have long-term consequences on their health.
Today, 14 million American children take care of themselves after the school day ends, including almost 4 million sixth-to-eighth graders, and over 400,000 kindergartners. Providing these children with structure, physical activity, and adult role models outside of school can ensure life-long healthy living, and improve their chances at academic and psychological improvement.
A World Fit for Kids! provides programs outside-of-school time that focus on providing all children, regardless of their athletic and physical ability, with physical activity, nutrition and health education, and opportunities to build social-emotional wellness skills. And a huge part of their program relies on their Physical Activity Leadership workshops which are designed to help the adult programs leaders reach their own health and personal goals before they start working with students. This ensures that their programs leaders are able to model successful healthy behaviors for the students they mentor.
And their program results are stunning.
• 96% of teens completing WFIT’s Mentors in Motion training graduated from high school in Los Angeles, as compared to the Los Angeles 2011 graduation rate of 61%.
• 76% of teens completing the WFIT teen training went on to higher education.
• 86% of elementary school students and 54% of middle and high school students stated they were physically active every day. (Compared to only 6% nationally).
Not only do afterschool and summer programs ensure the safety of children during unsupervised hours–preventing risky and delinquent behavior as well as harm in other forms–but research indicates that quality programs enhance the acquisition of academic, social and workforce skills need to succeed.
- Read the A World Fit for Kids! report here.
- Cover photo courtesy of “Visit Greenwich.” View their Flickr photostream here.