WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National AfterSchool Association has selected Jean Wiecha, Ph.D., public health nutritionist at RTI International, as one of its 2017 Most Influential in Health & Wellness. Honorees are distinguished for their strong advocacy for and support of health and wellness in afterschool programs.
Wiecha, a nationally known leader in obesity and chronic disease prevention among youth and families, led the development and dissemination of the National AfterSchool Association Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards. The standards have been adopted by major national youth-serving organizations reaching more than 13 million U.S. children and youth.
The National AfterSchool Association is the membership association for professionals who work with children and youth in diverse school and community-based settings to provide a wide variety of extended learning opportunities and care during out-of-school hours. In selecting the Most Influential in Health & Wellness 2017, sponsored by The Walking Classroom, the National AfterSchool Association sought to honor individuals and organizations whose service, action and leadership align with and support the association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards and affect large numbers of youth, families or afterschool professionals.
An estimated 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs each year and the industry employs an estimated 850,000.
“The National AfterSchool Association believes that out-of-school time hours offer a great opportunity to impact the health of today’s youth and their families,” said Gina Warner, President and CEO of the National AfterSchool Association. “Promoting healthy eating and physical activity can lead to lifelong physical and mental health and prevent disease.”
Wiecha is an expert in school-based youth health promotion strategies, physical activity and nutrition science, and intervention design and evaluation. She serves as an evaluator and advisor to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which works nationally to reduce childhood obesity. She also co-founded the Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition, which brings together service, policy and research professionals.
Honorees were profiled in the Spring 2017 issue of NAA’s AfterSchool Today magazine.