Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) teaches children how to make healthy food choices and to enjoy physical activity, contributing to their social and physical development.
With more than 2,700 Ys operating in 10,000 communities nationwide, along with nine million children participating in out-of-school programs at least three hours a day, the Y has a responsibility to the families and communities it serves to build lifelong habits in youth that create healthy futures. Driven by commitment and cause, Y-USA pledged to educate kids about healthy lifestyles, model healthy behaviors and cultivate environments that make it easier for kids to make healthier choices.
In 2011, Y-USA made a commitment to First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to become the nation’s healthiest childcare provider and help end the childhood obesity epidemic. By adopting and implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in more than 2,700 Ys across the country, the Y is developing healthy habits in more than 700,000 youth with a goal of nearly 2.1 million by 2015. As a cause-driven organization, the Y isn’t merely looking to incorporate HEPA into its early childhood and afterschool programs, but seeks to improve health for youth in every community the Y serves.
Currently, more than 90 percent of local Y early learning and afterschool programs have committed to implementing the HEPA standards.
The HEPA standards are based, in part, on years of research done in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, the Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition (HOST) and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) Opens a new window. Built on a foundation of these external resources and the experience of YMCAs across the nation, the standards represent the most effective way to create healthy environments in out-of-school-time settings.