A curriculum promoting exercise and healthy eating has made its way into after school programs across the Bronx and NYC.
NYJTL, also known as the New York Junior Tennis League, has partnered with EmblemHealth to launch a Health Living curriculum at 18 different city schools, including four in the Bronx and 84 program locations citywide, to help elementary and middle school students become more physically active and make healthier nutritional choices as a part of Mayor de Blasio’s $190 million campaign for after-school services during the school year.
Students involved in these after school curricular activities, offered through NYJTL’s Aces Clubs, take part in three workshops – playing tennis, learning about healthy eating in a classroom setting and practicing healthy eating.
In addition, the students are given Bodega Buddy clip cards, which helps them decide on a healthy afternoon snack by looking at the serving size, amount per serving, calories and fat on the nutrition facts chart.
Parents are given a family guide, which provides information on how to shop healthy for the family.
“We consider ourselves responsible for the health and overall wellness of New Yorkers,” said David Flemister, EmblemHealth’s director of community marketing, a company that has collaborated with NYJTL for 20 years. “Since we also see ourselves as official sponsors to living healthier, it is our jobs to do our part – by providing tools and resources to New York residents so they can have healthy food choices available to them and a more positive outcome can be reached.”
“This curriculum, which combines tennis with a big emphasis on learning, has given students, as well as their parents and families, access to information on how to buy and cook healthier food food options while keeping them physically active,” said Jessica Bailey, senior director of education for NYJTL. “This information, including the family guide, shopping and recipe cards and the Bodega Buddy clip cards will further educate students’ families as a whole.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of children and adolescents from New York were overweight or obese in 2008. Obesity in children ages six to 11 has more than tripled in the last three decades, rising from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008.
With this after school addition, which meets three hours each week day after school, students are now learning how to get and stay fit.
“These activities give us the perfect balance of exercise and nutrition that we need throughout the course of a day,” said Sachelle Flores, elementary school student at P.S. 146. “When we’re playing tennis in the gym, we’re learning how to hit forehand and backhand, while learning how to be an important part of a team. Combined with learning about how to eat healthier, this program is an excellent way to stay both active and healthy.”
Students at P.S. 146, one of the four Bronx schools involved in this curriculum along with P.S. 58, C.S. 92 and P.S. 100, have had the opportunity to practice their tennis skills with coach Jeff Carter, as well as learn about health food choices in an active and fun classroom environment from energetic NYJTL nutrition specialist Sean Butler.
“These children are the future – the earlier we connect them with ways to eat healthy and exercise, the better chance they will have at avoiding obesity,” said Butler, who is originally from Fordham and joined NYJTL as a group leader in 2009.