Jessica Baxter

Jessica Baxter, director of operations at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming, and others with the organization hope to promote a "culture of wellness," with emphasis on healthy eating, physical activity and emotional well-being. 

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming is beginning to define what healthy learning looks like for youth who attend programs before and after school.

To do so, the Boys & Girls Club hopes to gain the community’s input. The group scheduled a round table discussion with a provided lunch for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the All-American Center on the BGCCW campus. All are welcome, including parents, school staff and other providers of after- and before-school care. To RSVP, contact Jessica Baxter at 235-4079 or jbaxter@bgccw.org by Monday.

Baxter is vice president of operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming, where she has worked for more than nine years. She started out as a part-time children’s choir director and worked through several other positions there. Jet-lagged after a church mission trip to Haiti, she explained the importance of a Culture of Wellness outside of the classroom.

What is a Culture of Wellness? It all started when the Centers for Disease Control partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, one of two out-of-school-time agencies in America that were selected. We want to start investigating best practices in out-of-school time. We’ve seen lots of positive changes in schools — lunches, snack vending, treats brought in from home, a healthy way of living in school — now the CDC is really looking at what about out of school?

How were you selected? CDC said ‘you guys have the kids, tell us what you’re doing.’ They chose one Boys & Girls Club in each state and asked us to observe what we’re doing and report back things we’re already doing. And on top of that, begin this conservation in our communities, which is the reason for the round table.

Who is the round table meant for? We want to inspire our entire community — parents, families, other organizations, kids themselves — to create this culture of wellness, healthy eating and physical activity. But also it’s incredibly important to focus on our mental well being for our kids, so it’s also about minds and emotions, not just about our bodies.

And the reason a round table format was selected? We can’t do it all. We are bringing everyone together, anyone who wants to come and have this conversation with us is welcome.

And there is a HEPA acronym? That stands for Healthy Eating Physical Activity, so the real focus is on healthy eating: three fruits, two vegetables and 60 minutes of physical activity a day. So how can we as a community make this possible for kids in every aspect of their life? We’ll give everyone tools so they can use them and go back to their own organization and make an action plan.

Will there be other round tables? We would love to have multiple of these in the community. We love to collaborate with folks on all kinds of things, so we are kind of waiting to see what comes of this. We would love to see this be the springboard for us to collaborate within the community, so that anywhere kids go in Natrona County, they would be seeing and experiencing healthy food, healthy behavior, healthy activities.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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