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Photo: 123rf.com

Here’s a story worth repeating:

A single father had a hard time getting his daughter to do homework.  Everything her asked her to do she did the exact opposite. After returning home from school instead of practicing writing the alphabet, she grabbed the remote control to watch TV. Instead of trying new colors in her coloring box, she went to the refrigerator and helped herself to a snack. She was unfocused, unmotivated and restless all at once. It was a constant struggle.

Then the father heard about an afterschool program. The program met five days a week at her daughter’s school and several other schools in North Philadelphia. The program provided a twilight meal, academic enrichment, and physical activates from 3 to 6 pm–a time when children are more
vulnerable to juvenile crime, experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes
and sex. Without the program, there were few places where the father said
that his daughter could go until school ended. After he was enrolled her in
the program, her father saw an improvement in his daughter’s behavior. Her
homework was done on time without a fuss. And the snacks were a bonus.

 

New standards for school and afterschool meals

In 2012, First Lady Michele Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
unveiled new standards for school meals that required schools to provide
healthier meals for kids in the U.S. The healthier meal requirements were a
key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, advocated by the
First Lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by
President Obama.

In April, 2011 The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) embraced
similar standards for school meals for Healthy Eating in Out-of -School
Time Programs. The standards addresses items such as snack content and
quality, staff training, curriculum, social support (including staff role
modeling, parent engagement and children’s social development),
program support, and environmental support.

 

Afterschool programs help keep children healthy and fit

According to a report released by Afterschool Alliance, parents are
“overwhelmingly satisfied with the job afterschool programs are doing to
provide children with nutritious snacks and opportunities for exercise.”

Afterschool programs are funded by the 21st Century Community
Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding source dedicated
exclusively to afterschool programs. About 22 million kids are eligible to
attend 21st CCLC programs nationally, but records show that funding allows
for only 1.6 million to participate. Members of the U.S. House of
Representatives and Congress are threatening to cut funding in afterschool
program at a time when children need it the most.

Support has been overwhelming for Afterschool Programs. Let’s continue
to let our representatives know that we depend on the funds to keep our
children safe and engaged in school.

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