By our friends at the Afterschool Alliance
Owsley County, Kentucky is a picturesque, rural area with a sparse population of 4,722. With a median income of $19,097, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in the nation. Bound by limited resources, local families here struggle to ensure their children are eating nutritious meals and have opportunities to stay physically active after school. Save the Children’s Healthy Choices initiative has stepped in to help address this difficult situation in Owsley County by offering health and wellness resources at a SummerBoost Camp.
The only program of its kind in the area, Save the Children’s SummerBoost Camp offers physical activity, nutrition and other academic and enrichment opportunities for the children of Owsley County. Children participating are provided a healthy breakfast through the USDA’s summer food service program, nutrition education. Physical activity opportunities are provided by the CATCH Kids Club curriculum. During a smoothie-making activity, staff use creative methods to expose children to fresh fruit and help children brainstorm ways to create healthy snacks at home.
Save the Children’s Healthy Choices initiative is working to address childhood obesity and malnutrition in under-resourced communities across America through the effective combination of practice and policy. Since starting in 2005, the initiative currently operates in 10 states and is delivered within Save the Children’s afterschool and SummerBoost Camp programs.
Healthy Choices also uses the research-based Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum and is consistent with National Afterschool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards (HEPA).
The 3 Pillars of Healthy Choices are:
- Access to healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables
- Opportunities for daily, moderate-vigorous physical activity utilizing a research-based curriculum
- Increased nutrition knowledge through nutrition lessons, hands-on learning experiences, and nutrition read-aloud books to reinforce health content through literacy
Program staff are hired locally from the communities in which programs operate and are responsible for implementing the research based program. Staff provide children with 30 minutes or more of daily, moderate to vigorous physical activity that teaches lifelong movement skills. Staff are also provided ongoing training and technical assistance to support high-quality program implementation. Additionally, children participating in Healthy Choices receive daily snacks in alignment with Save the Children’s Healthy Snack Standards and participate in weekly nutrition education.
“Through Healthy Choices, Save the Children equips schools, families, and communities with the resources needed to support children’s healthy growth and development. Our programs work to ensure that our nation’s most underserved children have the chance to reach their full potential. We also advocate for policy change to ensure children’s voices are heard and their needs addressed, securing the future we share,” said Lesley Graham, Associate Director of US Health Programs for Save the Children. “We know that healthy children learn better and by working with local partners across the country, Save the Children prepares children to succeed in school, lead healthy, active lives and have the best chances for a successful future.”