Today’s guest post comes from BGCA’s Lauren Barineau, Senior Director of Youth Development, Health & Wellness. She is an expert in making sure our members are as healthy as they can be!
Is Your Club HEPA-Tastic??
In recent years, more attention is being paid to healthy eating and physical activity among youth. At Boys & Girls Clubs, one of our core focus areas is Healthy Lifestyles. Are you able to describe what this specifically looks like at your Club?
HEPA stands for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity. There are many HEPA standards (you can find all of them from the National Afterschool Association), and one we’ve been focusing on at BGCA is youth having:
2 fruits + 3 vegetables + 60 minutes of physical activity per day, for 5 days a week
There are many ways to increase opportunities for youth to meet this HEPA standard. Here are a few simple ideas to integrate healthy eating and physical activity into your Club day:
- Recognize and celebrate youth with healthy options. Instead of a pizza or cupcake party, have fruit kabobs with fruit dip, or work with members to make smoothies.
- Host cooking demonstrations (or a Top Chef competition!) to allow youth to build skills in creating healthy snacks. Members could easily make celery with peanut butter, build their own salads, or make hummus. Read how the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lac Courte Orielles runs their cooking program here!
- Take a “brain break” before officially starting Power Hour. Have youth do a Wellness Challenge, or lead members in a dance break to increase their physical activity and refocus their attention.
- Find ways to make exercise feel like a game. Create an indoor/outdoor obstacle course, or turn simple body weight exercises into a relay race.
- Support healthy relationships between staff and members by having them work together to reach 1 million steps within a month. Create a large tracking system at the Club and let members and staff log their steps in a way that’s visible. (Get some ideas on visualizing goals here!)
As a youth development professional, it is always important to consider the ways you model healthy behavior while interacting with members. Opt for a large bottle of water instead of a soda during the Club day, make or bring a sandwich instead of a fast food meal, and be the first to line up to eat healthy snacks. Members will notice, and will want to follow your commitment to healthy eating and physical activities.
BGCA looks forward to learning more about how your Club is incorporating Health & Wellness, and we encourage you to leave ideas in the comments section to share with others.
Boys & Girls Club staff can access TONS of resources on BGCA.net! You can find many more ideas for increasing health and wellness at www.bgca.net/wellness. Consider games and activities to increase physical activity from BGCA’s Playbreaks. Utilize BGCA’s Triple Play Curriculum to integrate lessons about nutrition, physical literacy, and social-emotional well-being across the Club day!
Lauren has been in the Movement for six months here at BGCA. Macaroni and cheese is absolutely her weakness!
How do you incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into your Club programming? What are your most successful ideas? Comment below or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org and YOU could be featured in an upcoming post!