In America, 11.3 children are alone and unsupervised during certain hours after school. Additionally, a third of American children are now obese. After-School programs are an effective tool used by schools and community-based organizations in combatting childhood obesity, increasing children’s safety, and enhancing physical and mental skills. They can provide physical activity and nutrition education, healthy snacks, and a safe place to play, socialize, and learn in the hours after school. These programs are a huge relief to working parents, as well as beneficial to children’s development.
Local YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs are only two of countless organizations that put together enriching programs for kids together. At the YMCA, they put together programs run by CPR certified and trained professionals in areas of art, music, physical activity, sports and nutrition, and even homework help. The Boys and Girls Club of America offers many similar activities, with specific programs entitled Power Hour Homework Club, SMART Moves, Street Smart, Project Learn, and Torch Club. They have many age-specific rooms for kids to be in, and even have a Life Skills Room.
The data from numerous studies has demonstrated that these programs are extremely positively impactful on children’s well-being, and are one of the most obvious and effectual ways to combat childhood obesity. The issue is bringing these programs to low-income and marginalized neighborhoods who most need them.