April 3, 2017 – (Charlotte) The North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs and the NC Division of Public Health today launched the Healthy Out-of-School Time Recognition Program (NC HOST) at the Synergy 2017 Conference.

The voluntary NC HOST program recognizes out-of-school time programs that meet a subset of the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards. The North Carolina General Assembly enacted the program in 2016, thereby recognizing the role that out-of-school time programs have in encouraging healthier eating and physical activity.

“As a dad and a legislator, I know how important our kids’ health is to the future of our state. The Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Recognition Program will help parents find programs that support their desire to have their children stay active and have healthier snacks and meals when they are in someone else’s care,” said Rep. Josh Dobson, a Republican representing McDowell, Avery and Mitchell counties.

Nearly 235,000 school-age children receive care in North Carolina out-of-school time programs. These can include before and after school programs, summer day camps, sports and arts camps, 4-H clubs and other similar programs. Such programs are uniquely positioned to play a role in obesity and chronic disease prevention by providing an environment where children can eat healthy and be physically active.

Through the partnership between the NC Division of Public Health and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, sites that seek recognition will utilize the Alliance’s Healthy Out-of-School Time framework, a free online assessment and suite of free resources linked to the NAA HEPA Standards. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation currently serves as a national technical assistance partner for the National Recreation and Park Association and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

More than one out of every three North Carolina children and youth are overweight or obese. Two thirds of North Carolina kids drink at least one sugary drink per day, and very few get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Out-of-school time providers have the opportunity to create environments where healthy eating and physical activity are accessible and encouraged.

“I have been involved in a number of projects over the years that show the adoption of healthy eating and physical activity standards in out-of-school time programs is a very important first step in ensuring a health promoting environment for children, program staff, and families,” said Justin B. Moore, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. “However, adoption is just the first step in implementing these ‘best-practices,’ and it’s important that we support the out-of-school time program staff and parents as they identify and implement strategies to meet the standards and maximize the positive effects on the health of the children.”

Out-of-school time programs can apply to become an NC Healthy Out-of-School Time Recognized Program by at eatsmartmovemorenc.com/NCHOST.

Sherée Vodicka

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