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On-Site Staff / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality

Collaboration, Gratitude and Birds (Yeah, Birds!)

As we enter the holiday season, I’m thankful to be coming up on my 10th year at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. As Director of Community Partnerships, I have the unique pleasure of cultivating relationships to engage communities in promoting children’s health.

For this article, I wanted to share three collaborations that I am particularly excited about – each with resources I hope you can use to bring wellness to life in out-of-school time while engaging families and empowering children.

I’ve included a bonus funding opportunity (but, don’t skip ahead!).

Parks and Recreation

Park and recreation agencies bring communities together. From serving summer meals to providing physical activity opportunities for families, they are critical to reinforcing the hard work of healthy schools and other youth-serving organizations. Through Commit to Health, over 1,600 parks and recreation sites have impacted over 280,000 youth.

The role of Healthier Generation? Make healthy afterschool relevant for the membership of the National Recreation and Park Association and ensure local recreation agencies and their partners have the tools they need.

Here are a few resources to explore:

Reducing Food Waste in Out-of-School Time

Commit to Health and Conservation

Youth as Health and Wellness Leaders in Local Parks and Recreation

Healthy Out-of-School Time Wellness Policy Implementation Guide

Girls and STEM

Earlier this year I met Erin Hogeboom, Community Development and Network Strategy Manager for the National Girls Collaborative at the 2017 BOOST Conference. I wrote about our initial collaboration in my July Breakfast Club article, STEM and Wellness: Colliding Galaxies.  Over the summer, we developed an educational resource to help out-of-school time leaders partner with schools by blending STEM and wellness. The partnership with the National Girls Collaborative has made even more clear to me the importance of leveraging citizen science and STEM to help children understand how they can improve their health and the health of their community. By the way, if you are attending the upcoming 2018 BOOST Conference, we hope you’ll join us for our workshop, Moving Forward Together: How Unexpected Partnerships Can Breathe New Life Into Your Work.

Birds and Inclusion

Speaking of citizen science, this year I’ve joined The Cornell Lab of Ornithology BirdSleuth K-12 for two presentations on the topic of simple resources to energize staff, children, and families through nature. Maybe you’re wondering what the link is between bird activities and healthy schools and communities.

If so, here are 4 reasons and 10 resources and ideas:

1.     Bird activities are an inclusive and intergenerational way to promote daily movement; everyone can participate regardless of age, ability or skill. If you’ve made a commitment to inclusion, consider exploring resources like Feathered Friends to foster a life-long love of movement while nurturing a natural connection.

2.     Bird activities lead to multiple extension activities. From literacy to art, going outdoors for birding can inspire critical thinking adventures and prompt creative fun. For ideas and printables, download the BirdSleuth Explorer’s Guidebook. Why not “flip the switch” (here are 8 tips) and try this simple bird feeder craft at your next family engagement event.

3.     Birds are everywhere and you don’t even need binoculars to participate; it’s a free activity! The Merlin Bird ID application can turn your next brain break into a bird watching adventure. Bird activities can be individual or social and provide an opportunity for mindful breaks throughout the day. Here’s my example!

4.     Celebrate uniqueness. Nature activities are powerful opportunities to create a more connected and kinder world by designing cooperative learning experiences that support social, emotional and academic development.


Funding opportunities are great opportunities to develop new and diverse partnerships. As part of the Voices for Healthy Kids Out-of-School Time Consortium, I’m excited to share a new opportunity targeted to out-of-school time with the goal of integrating national healthy eating and physical activity standards into recognition programs, accreditation programs, certifications, and rating systems. Want to know more? Visit the grant portal and contact Tiereny Lloyd at [email protected].

For breakfast, I had coffee and a banana pancake.

Author: @danielh


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