Active After School: Michigan's After-School Partnership Creates a Pilot Program
In 2004, Michigan established the Michigan After-School Partnership, a collaborative of public and private agencies aimed at promoting quality after-school programs. This project supported the partnership's efforts to integrate physical activities into after-school programs by:
- Increasing awareness of child obesity in Michigan.
- Disseminating best practices for incorporating physical activities into after-school programs.
- Identifying physical activity curricula and training after-school providers in using that curricula.
- Developing a coordinated network of after-school services.
- The partnership and other agencies implemented a pilot program in 25 after-school sites to encourage physical activity.
- The partnership convened three conferences, in 2005, 2006 and 2007, with tracks on health, safety and nutrition for both school administrators and after-school program practitioners.
- In 2007, the Michigan legislature changed licensing rules so that after-school programs could access federal "After-School Snack/Supper Funds."
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a $100,000 grant between November 2004 and November 2007.
Some 12 percent of Michigan's high school students were obese in 2003, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means their body mass index (BMI) — a ratio of weight to height — was at or higher than the 95th percentile of students of the same age and gender. One in seven Michigan children was expected to develop type 2 diabetes.
After-school programs can help address these concerns by focusing on physical activity and healthy eating, according to the CDC, the National Association for Sports and Physical Education and other groups.
The Michigan Initiative
In 2003, the state of Michigan convened the Michigan After-School Initiative — a collaborative of public and private agencies concerned with child health, welfare and education — to study and build support for after-school programs in the state.
A December 2003 report from the initiative stated that:
- Nearly 40 percent of Michigan youth said they engaged in insufficient physical activity on a regular basis.
- Some 71 percent of Michigan families were without after-school programs, and 450,000 children were home alone after school each day.
- The direct and indirect costs associated with physical inactivity in Michigan in 2002 were an estimated $8.9 billion.
The report noted research indicating that attendees of high-quality out-of-school programs outperform non-attendees in:
- Emotional adjustment.
- Conflict resolution skills.
- School grades.
- Behavior in school.
The report recommended that state agencies take steps to:
- Reinforce and extend public support for after-school programs.
- Develop policies that promote quality programs.
- Identify funding sources for programs.
- Ensure that all Michigan school-age children have access to a variety of programs.
- Alleviate the child care burdens of working parents and caregivers.
In September 2004, the state legislature formalized and extended the duration of the initiative, now called the Michigan After-School Partnership, to promote the objectives recommended in the 2003 report.
RWJF has developed three integrated strategies to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic: evidence, action and advocacy.
Investments in building the evidence base will help ensure that the most promising efforts are replicated throughout the nation.
The Foundation's major research efforts in this area — Active Living Research (also see Grant Results), Healthy Eating Research and Bridging the Gap — are contributing to the nation's collective knowledge about the changes to policies and to community and school environments that are most effective in increasing physical activity and improving nutrition for children and youth.
RWJF also seeks to evaluate innovative approaches underway in states, schools and communities across the country.
- For instance, RWJF supported an independent evaluation of efforts to implement Arkansas Act 1220, which mandated a comprehensive approach to addressing childhood obesity in public schools.
- The Foundation also funded a separate initiative to analyze body mass index (BMI) data for all Arkansas public school students. Already, the BMI analysis has indicated that, in just three years, Arkansas has halted the progression of the epidemic in the state. For more information, see Grant Results.
RWJF's action strategy for communities and schools focuses on engaging partners at the local level, building coalitions and promoting the most promising approaches. For example, RWJF is working closely with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (a partnership of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation) to support its efforts to improve nutrition, physical activity and staff wellness in schools nationwide.
As staff learns from the evidence and action strategies, RWJF shares results by educating leaders and investing in advocacy, building a broad national constituency for childhood obesity prevention.
RWJF supported the National Governors Association when Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee designated wellness in schools, homes and workplaces as his Chairman's Initiative for 2005–2006.
Through Leadership for Healthy Communities, RWJF works closely with national organizations that represent elected and appointed officials — such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the U.S. Conference of Mayors — to educate their members about successful approaches to increasing physical activity and healthy eating among children and youth. The goal is to support leaders and decision-makers in their efforts to create healthier states, counties and cities.
Outside of its work on childhood obesity, RWJF also funded After School: Connecting Children at Risk With Responsible Adults to Help Reduce Youth Substance Abuse and Other Health-Compromising Behaviors, a program that helped develop intermediary organizations in Boston, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area in order to create citywide systems of after-school programs. For more information, see Grant Results.
The overarching goal of this project was to promote the inclusion of physical activity and healthy living in after-school programs in Michigan. Its specific objectives were to:
- Promote policies requiring after-school programs to address child obesity.
- Disseminate best practices in addressing child obesity via after-school programs by creating a database of providers, identifying physical activity curricula, training providers and parents and convening conferences and meetings.
- Increase awareness of childhood obesity among legislators, after-school program providers, the general public and others.
- Expand data collection systems so that changes in physical activity and eating patterns could be tracked and analyzed.
- Secure commitment from and collaborate with health care providers and others in supporting efforts to address child obesity.
In addition to RWJF and state funding, the partnership received $225,000 from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in 2004–2006.
Project staff reported the following results to RWJF:
- The Michigan After-School Partnership, the Michigan Fitness Foundation and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness implemented a pilot program entitled Choose Your Move in 25 after-school sites. Choose Your Move helps upper elementary school children become physically active and learn about physical activity in other countries.
- The Michigan After-School Partnership convened three conferences, in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Conferences included tracks on health, safety and nutrition for both school administrators and after-school practitioners. More than 500 participants attended the 2007 conference.
- In 2007, the Michigan legislature changed licensing rules so that after-school programs could access federal "After-School Snack/Supper Funds." These funds allowed more after-school programs to purchase and serve healthy food to children participating in program activities.
- Invest the time required to build coalitions. Building coalitions with public agencies, community organizations and local businesses is a slow process. It takes time to develop the trust and connections required if the coalition is to endure. (Project Director)
- Recognize the intersection of health and social concerns in work related to the health of children and adolescents. Problems such as childhood injuries, teen pregnancy and violence tend to occur in clusters and should not be viewed in isolation. "The way to begin to address those problems is to begin to understand more about affecting child health and incorporating that understanding into the program," said former Program Officer Floyd Morris.
- Be creative about bringing children and adults together. The sites in After School offered attractive activities, such as apprenticeships in the arts and technology, and sports programs that ranged from basketball to martial arts. These activities appealed to both children and adults. (Program Officer/Floyd Morris)
- Combat childhood obesity through physical activities that children enjoy. Team-Up for Youth offered many different types of sports programs to appeal to different children. "If kids are occupied with things they like to do, they tend to be physically oriented," said former Program Officer Floyd Morris.
AFTER THE GRANT
In October 2007 the Michigan After-School Partnership affiliated with the Michigan Association of United Ways, where it can apply for, receive and manage grants in a more flexible and timely manner than it could as part of a state agency.
In 2007, the partnership received an additional $225,000 from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for 2007–09.
In 2008, the partnership continued its work supporting and advocating for after-school programming in Michigan:
- It purchased 75 more Choose Your Move kits and held training workshops on the program.
- It held two statewide conferences, in May and October.
- It launched a Web site.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Addressing Childhood Obesity in Michigan Through After-School Programs
State of Michigan Department of Education (Lansing, MI)
Dates: November 2004 to November 2007
(517) 371-4360, Ext. 17
(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)
The Facts: After-School. Lansing, MI: Michigan After-School Partnership.
Report prepared by: Mary Nakashian
Reviewed by: Robert Narus
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Dwayne C. Proctor