Reaching Physical Activity Goals in Recreation Centers
In November 2011, as a way to encourage and track physical activity in Philadelphia recreation center based after school programs, physical activity goals were assigned. The daily goal for physical activity was 20 minutes and the weekly goal was 100 minutes. For the first quarter, 7 afterschool programs exceeded the physical activity goal! Three rec centers - Murphy, Palumbo and Holme - received wellness-centered awards – one hour of music and physical activity program!
Structured Physical Activity
SPARK (Sport, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) is a physical activity program of the Get Healthy Philly Initiative which was adopted by the staff of Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. Roosevelt Rec Center’s after school program has embraced SPARK wholeheartedly. NItza Ellis, Recreation Specialty Instructor at the Roosevelt rec center, engages the 20 children enrolled in the after-school program in daily physical activity that is simple and fun! Her passion and commitment to the children’s health and wellbeing is admirable.
Youth Council at Recreation Centers Promote
Healthy Eating and Active Living
Hank Gathers Recreation Center
The girls of Gathers Recreation Center afterschool program formed a youth council to check the health of their center through peer interviews. The group identified simple behavior changes that would improve their health: watching and playing less TV and video games and eating more fruits and vegetables. To encourage these behavior changes, Gathers hosted a “Get Healthy” event that was attended by friends, family and community members, including the PE teacher from nearby Pratt Elementary. The event had delicious fruit and vegetable snacks and active games.
Pelbano Recreation Center
Recognizing the need for creative ideas to stay physically active indoors, the youth council at Pelbano Recreation Center planned a Healthy Dance Party. With the help of Sterlen Barr from Rapping About Prevention, Inc. and his dance crew, the center hosted a high-energy event in their gym. Youth council members got the party started by leading a relay race and competing in a dance-off. Each council member received a certificate recognizing their leadership efforts in promoting wellness at Pelbano.
Afterschool Meal Programs Get a Healthy and Delicious Makeover
Cutting Fat, Slashing Sodium and Approved by Youth
To improve the acceptability of meals served as part of Parks & Recreation’s new afterschool meal program, 25 taste test events were held with over 700 youth across the city to gather feedback on menu options. Staff focus groups also gave valuable information that identified areas for improvement. Based on the feedback, afterschool meals now include more healthy and tasty options such as low fat mozzarella cheese sticks, tuna salad on wheat crackers, carrot sticks with fat free ranch dip and mixed fruit. Parks & Recreation also eliminated menu items such as “honi buns” and powdered sugar doughnuts, and replaced them with healthier alternatives such as low fat yogurt and honey wheat pretzels. As a result, a typical child consuming both an afterschool meal and snack on a daily basis now consumes 12,500 fewer calories, nearly 300 fewer grams of fat, and over 21,000 fewer milligrams of sodium over the school year.
Education about Healthy Eating and Active Living
Youth council members at two recreation centers created a series of 16 PSAs featuring healthy snacks, recipes, games and other ideas to stay physically active. Council members wrote about their favorite ways to stay healthy and their quotes were used in the videos. The PSAs are currently being shown at 75 schools across the city and available online at www.foodfitphilly.org/healthyyou.