As we are gaining more Valley-wide support of Healthy LifeStars through our upcoming event STEP UP 4 KiDS, we though it would be best to re-introduce our program. Kara Cline, Salvation Army Healthy LifeStars Program Director, and Nick Reyes, Salvation Army Healthy LifeStars Program Manager, explain exactly what Healthy LifeStars does for kids across the Valley.
Depending on The Salvation Army location, the children arrive after school, have a quick snack, complete their homework (with tutoring available), and participate in Healthy LifeStars for roughly an hour.
The basic structure of the program varies at each site, but the core values, known as Healthy Life Habits, are all the same:
1. I Can Do It!
2. I’m Active!
3. I Eat Right!
In a nutshell, Healthy LifeStars teaches children how to eat nutritiously, live more actively, and set healthy goals.
The kids are motivated to participate by the simple fact that the program and activities are fun.
“The kids are playing, they don’t consider it exercising,” Cline said. “They’re having a ball!”
The coach determines which of the Healthy Life Habits will be taught in each session and models the whole hour around it. For example, if the focus is on “I’m Active!” the children might engage in activities that involve running or swimming. Different amenities are available at each location… Some have a swimming pool or rock-climbing wall, while others are located at a park. Still, coaches are trained to adapt and realize the location’s potential.
“They make it work with what they have,” Reyes said. “The program is very flexible and that’s how it’s been successful.”
Cline and Reyes know first-hand how Healthy LifeStars operates and why it works; they taught the program last Spring at The Salvation Army’s Citadel location.
Now, Cline and Reyes train all coaches (after-school staff, Salvation Army “troops” and officers, and volunteers) and frequently visit each site to check in with them. The two have been with the program for one year.
While eating healthy and being physically active through goal-setting are the key points of this organization, Cline and Reyes agree that there is more to Healthy LifeStars.
The program, though only for one hour a day, teaches children how to take care of themselves and claim responsibility for their own actions.
“We give them the tools to take care of themselves. What they do to their body affects their soul,” Cline said.
“We aren’t just teaching them how to build muscle, we build confidence and stronger souls,” Reyes said.