Healthy Out-of-School Time, or HOST standards, were created by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) . These standards give out of school time providers a great resource to offer healthy snacks and physical activity to children.
According to the AHG website, the HOST standards “gives out-of-school time providers a science-based framework designed to help create environments where youth are encouraged to eat healthier and move more.” The website continues to say “Our initiative works to support the staff, families, and youth at these sites (Afterschool programs, community centers, summer camps, and other out-of-school time settings) around the country in their efforts to help young people make healthy life choices.
To assist in the adoption of HOST standards in your department, there are a few steps to take. First, take the HOST assessment. This assessment helps your department identify current strengths and weaknesses for 11 Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards.
The HOST Assessment lets test takers select “Yes”, “No”, or “Not Applicable”. When the assessment is completed, opportunities for growth and areas of strengths should be highlighted. These strengths and opportunities will allow your department to create an action plan on how to best adopt HOST standards moving forward.
The second step in the adoption of HOST standards is establishing an action plan. To establish your action plan, the AHG put together a five-step approach:
Step 1: Choose best practices/goals to work on (most sites do best when working on 1-5 best practices at a time).
Step 2: Review AHG implementation strategies, examples and resources
Step 3: Take notes on how you plan to implement healthy changes to meet this best practice.
Step 4: Revisit, review and revise! Update your progress, add more notes or mark an item complete to automatically update your Healthy Out-of-School Time Assessment.
Step 5: Add new items to your Action Plan as you complete other items! Share your progress with staff, parents, youth, and community members by posting on our Action Plan Poster.
To learn more about getting started with your action plan, check out this short video.
You may be wondering why your department should adopt HOST standards. According to AHG, “studies show that youth that eats healthier and moves more get better grades, attend school more, and have improved self-esteem, social-relationships, and leadership skills.” I think that HOST standards are extremely beneficial and adoption should be strongly considered for our recreation and park programs.
When adopting HOST standards, be sure to use the resources available to you. Whether you are on the AHG’s resources page or accessing the NCRPA Wellness Toolkit, these resources can help a lot. I hope that your department considers using the HOST standards in the future!
Until next time,