Community Change in Times of Tragedy

posted on Thu, Aug 4 2016 12:00 pm by Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships

Yesterday’s blog article, Climbing Hills and Moving Mountains, mentioned a recent act of violence that occurred at a local afterschool program where we provide technical assistance.

As we work together to advance the healthy out-of-school time movement, it’s important to recognize the impact that tragic and violent events have on the staff, children and families we support.

After consulting with the National AfterSchool Association, below is a list of four resources addressing this challenging topic. 

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has compiled a list of online resources to help adults talk to young children about tragedies they may see or hear about in the media.

ExpandED Schools explores strategies and tools for how directors and administrators can foster environments of open communication when tragedies happen.

Learning in Afterschool and Summer recently convened an online discussion with field leaders on the role of afterschool programs in responding to violence.

The Leadership Program provides tips on facilitating conversations that meet people “where they are" to foster open and honest dialogue.

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In the field leader discussion, Gina Warner, President of the National AfterSchool Association, shared these words of encouragement...

"To all who work in this field... Keep doing what you are doing. Keep teaching children that love is greater than hate... Teach them to build bridges, not walls."

Consider your healthy out-of-school efforts. What opportunities exist to foster these bridges and connections? With limited time and resources, linking these efforts is especially important to balance fostering long-term health with basic needs and safety.

It could be a healthy potluck meal for staff and families, a free community field day hosted at your recreation agency or a youth-led intergenerational walking club before school. Even a Food and Fun taste test is an opportunity to empower children to make their own choices, practice decision-making and have control over their environment.

In what ways has your implementation of the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity brought your community together? What ideas do you have? E-mail me to share your story.

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To make it easier for schools and communities to access Healthier Generation tools and resources, we're offering a monthly webinar, Navigating the Healthy Out-of-School Time Initiative Website. Attendees will receive a complete introduction through a guided walkthrough and learn how to implement best practices for creating healthy out-of-school time environments.