The article is part of our series of blog posts featuring each of the individuals and/or organizations selected for the National AfterSchool Association’s Most Influential in Health and Wellness for afterschool. The Walking Classroom proudly sponsored the competition because of our strong belief in the value of afterschool programs and the importance of promoting healthier lifestyles for all kids.
Our next honoree is:
Edith Ballesteros, Director of BEST Fit
LA’s BEST | Los Angeles, California | lasbest.org
LA’s BEST was created in 1988 by Mayor Tom Bradley to address an alarming rise in the lack of adequate adult supervision of children during the critical hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. They serve over 25,000 kids at 193 elementary school sites in Los Angeles. These schools are in neighborhoods most vulnerable to gangs, drugs, crime and are schools with the lowest student test scores.
All children need a safe place to be after school. They need caring, responsible adults and engaging activities that connect them to their school, family, and community. The mission of LA’s BEST is to provide a safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation program for children ages 5 to 12 in the city of Los Angeles.
- Nothing we do is as important as the effect it has on a child.
- Engaging activities develop values, skills and relationships. Activities are not seen as ends in themselves, but as vehicles for creating values, building skills and solidifying peer and adult relationships. An engaging activity is one that holds children’s attention, awakens their imagination, and inspires them to want to learn more.
- All children have equal rights to be accepted, respected and valued by others. Children are viewed as individuals to be developed, not problems to be solved.
- Children should be involved in decision-making and program design. If children get to choose how, when, in what and with whom to be engaged, they are far more likely to enjoy themselves and behave cooperatively.
- When we listen for understanding everyone learns—children and adults alike. We are constantly able to learn from our children as well as each other. Everyone is a learner.
Selections were made by NAA based on strong advocacy for and support of health and wellness in afterschool. Those selected represent individuals and organizations whose service, action, and leadership align with and support the NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards and affect large numbers of youth, families, or afterschool professionals.