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Healthy Kids, Healthy New York After-School Initiative

Healthy Kids, Healthy New York After-School Initiative

Like the rest of the nation, New York State is experiencing an epidemic of childhood obesity. Nearly one in four school-agers in New York is obese and for the first time, elementary school children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Poor nutritional choices, inadequate physical activity and too much screen time are key behaviors that contribute to this health crisis. To reverse these unhealthy trends, we need to re-establish healthy habits in children's environment, especially at home, in school and in after-school settings.

After-school programs offer an ideal opportunity to foster healthy eating, promote physical activity and reduce screen time. The Healthy Kids, Healthy New York After-School (HKHNY) Initiative provides model guidelines for nutrition, physical activity and screen time and recommendations for meeting those guidelines. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides training, technical assistance and resources for making healthy changes in after-school programs.

Action Steps to HKHNY

1. Extension Educator meets with and orients after-school director/coordinator to self-assessment tool.

2. After-school director/coordinator administers self-assessment tool on their site.

3. Extension Educator and after-school director/coordinator and key staff meet again to review self-assessment and draft a written action plan with at least three targeted changes.

4. Extension Educator provides technical assistance and up to 10 hours of staff training that support the knowledge and motivation reaching targets identified in the action plan. Training topics include:

  • Why we worry about childhood obesity
  • Fostering healthy eating after school
  • Increasing physical activity after school
  • The trouble with screen time
  • Working with families

5. After three-six months, afterschool director/coordinator completes post-assessment.

6. Pre-post changes are analyzed and verified observationally, followed by recognition and incentive awards.

Success Stories


The RASCAL Afterschool Program located at the Roanoke Avenue Elementary School in Riverhead serves 60 children in grades K-6. Directed by Carole Kirchoff, a middle school guidance counselor, the program draws students from all the elementary schools in the Riverhead School District. After completing the C.H.A.S.E. self-assessment and developing an action plan, Carole and her 15 staff members participated in 12 hours of training on childhood obesity, healthy snacks and active play. There were also two demonstration activities on healthy snacks and active outdoor play conducted with the staff and children on-site.

As a result of action planning and staff training, RASCAL made the following changes in its practices and policies:

  • Replaced whole milk with 1% milk
  • Reduced 100% fruit juice to single serving sizes that were available only twice a week
  • Made fruit available at least twice a week
  • Made water available at all times

Funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Health

Last updated October 30, 2014