Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network helps make students healthy
A 2014 survey conducted by the Afterschool Alliance showed that approximately four out of five Georgia parents say their child’s afterschool program provides opportunities for physical activity and offers beverages, snacks and meals. Another recent Georgia study showed that the prevalence of obesity decreased for children participating in afterschool programs compared to those who did not participate. But not all afterschool and summer learning programs promote healthy lifestyles, particularly those targeted toward older youth.
The Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN) is a public-private collaborative that envisions a day in which all communities in Georgia have the resources needed to provide exceptional afterschool programming, including diet, exercise and overall health. GSAN is working to increase the number of programs supporting the health and well-being of youth through the Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development (ASYD) Standards and the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards.
GSAN is recognized as Shape’s April 2018 partner of the month for these efforts to improve the health of students through afterschool programs.
“Afterschool programs have a lasting positive impact on children’s health by providing nutritious snacks and meals and opportunities for physical activity,” said Katie Landes, director of GSAN. “Every day, these programs teach students about nutrition and fitness, and many students will keep those healthy habits for life.”
The Georgia ASYD Quality Standards were released by GSAN in partnership with Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and the Departments of Education and Public Health in 2015. The standards are research-based best practice guidelines that provide a framework for afterschool providers to evaluate and continuously improve the quality of their programming. The standards are organized into quality elements with one element devoted specifically to health and well-being, providing an opportunity for programs to assess growth in health.
In addition to this standard, GSAN promotes the National Afterschool Association’s HEPA standards that provide guidelines for healthy food, beverages and physical activity in out-of-school time programs.
Furthermore, some of GSAN’s current initiatives to increase the utilization of the Georgia ASYD and HEPA standards are: hosting the 2018 Afterschool and Youth Development Conference, providing technical assistance to out-of-school time programs and conducting youth development workshops.
GSAN’s mission is to advance, connect and support quality out-of-school time programs by engaging new and existing partners, supporting quality improvement and professional development, and working toward the sustainability of the field through policy and advocacy. To learn more about GSAN and their programs, visit their website.