5 Tips for the Healthiest Summer Yet

posted on Tue, May 3 2016 9:00 am by Daniel W. Hatcher, National Out-of-School Advisor

Summer is an opportunity to help children continue to get the supports they need when school is out. It's a time to build relationships with families and connections with the community at-large.

Watch this 2 minute animated video to learn more about why summer is essential.

What did you think about the video? What part was most memorable to you?

For me, it was the power of summer to help children prepare for the upcoming school year.

If you're ready to do your part, here are 5 tips:

Set a Strong Foundation. Adopt a wellness policy this summer to ensure consistent role modeling. We’ve recently developed a policy document aligned with the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. Share your policy during summer orientation, add to on-boarding materials and post it for families to see.

Champion Healthy Celebrations. From beach parties to 4th of July celebrations, summer can be filled with healthy fun. The NAA Standards encourage providers to foster youth, staff and family support through healthy celebrations and incentives. See #5 on this past article for tips and get even more at our Non-Food Rewards page. Want to know 5 of my favorite celebration ideas? Check them out here.

Provide Fun Physical Activities. Summer staff need simple and inexpensive activity ideas, especially if you work with volunteers or college students. And, if you serve summer meals, enrichment activities can attract more students and their siblings to your site.

Here are three past blog articles with ideas to avoid screen time, get kids outdoors and help all children move more (NAA HEPA Standard PA 01):

Empower Families. Working families rely on federal nutrition programs during the school year, but what happens when school is out? 

According to FRAC, "in July 2014, only 16.2 children received Summer Nutrition for every 100 low-income students who received lunch in the 2013-2014 school year. That is, only one child in six children who needed summer meals received them." 

If you’re a school, a park, a recreation center, a library or a faith organization you can apply to be a summer meal site. Even if you aren’t a summer meal site, you can be a champion and get others involved. Start by sharing the animated video above.

Disconnect from Screens and Plug into Learning. We’ve talked a lot on our blog lately about the importance of outdoor activities and reducing screen time; there are a lot of fun STEM projects you can do outdoors to prevent summer learning loss, including these 10 from the YMCA.