After School Programs

After-school programs are an important setting for promoting both healthy eating and active living to children and youth. Healthy behaviours like eating patterns and physical activity levels that are started in childhood and adolescence often transfer into adulthood so it is important that we provide opportunities to develop these behaviours at a young age.

Ottawa Public Health's Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Guidelines along with theI Love to Cook and Play and I Love to Garden programs will help support after-school program staff and volunteers in being positive role models and promoting healthy living to children and youth.

Healthy Eating and Active Living Guidelines

The After-School Programs Healthy Eating and Active Living Guidelines provide information and tools for staff and volunteers to help support positive practices so that children and youth can practice and learn about healthy living behaviours. These guidelines describe the minimum standards for after-school programs to follow when choosing snacks and including physical activity in their programs.

 I ♥ to Cook and Play

 I ♥ to Cook and Play is a community-based program for children and youth aged six to twelve that supports the implementation of Ottawa Public Health's HEAL Guidelines. The program manual will enable program leaders to teach children how to prepare simple, healthy, low-cost meals and snacks and to emphasize the importance of daily physical activity.

The I ♥ to Cook and Play Program Manual provides program leaders with:

  • Background information on healthy eating and physical activity

  • Instructions on how to organize and implement the I ♥ to Cook and Play program

  • Learning topics related to healthy eating and cooking skills

  • Hands-on activities that highlight learning topics

  • Healthy recipes

  • Games using low-cost equipment that don't need a large amount of space

  • Additional nutrition and physical activity resources

When possible, it is important to engage parents in the I Love to Cook and Play program because they are often the key decision makers in the family and serve as primary role models for their children. Having some parent involvement in the program will help reinforce healthy behaviours at home. 

  I ♥ to Garden

 to Garden is a community-based program for children and youth aged six to twelve that supports Ottawa Public Health’s HEAL Guidelines. The activities and recipes in the program manual will help you to teach children how plants grow, basic gardening skills and how to prepare healthy seasonal meals and snacks using produce that can be grown in Ottawa.

I ♥ to Garden program manual can be used by teachers, after-school program staff, summer camp staff and by parents and guardians. 

The I ♥ to Garden Program Manual provides you with:

  • Background information on gardening with children
  • 10 hands-on gardening and healthy eating activities
  • 13 healthy recipes, featuring fresh produce that can be grown in Ottawa
  • A resource section full of additional information on gardening and healthy cooking with children and youth
The I Love to Garden program manual is complimentary to Ottawa Public Health’s I Love to Cook and Play program. To learn the foundation of healthy cooking with children and for ideas of games, please refer to the I Love to Cook and Play program manual.



In Person

Ottawa Public Health’ offers free 2.5 hour training sessions to after-school program coordinators, staff and volunteers . Each Training covers the HEAL Guidelines for after-school programs, the I Love to Cook and Play program, and the I Love to Garden program. The next training will take place in the spring, 2020.



Check out our new condensed training videos on the HEAL Guidelines for after-school programs and the  to Cook and Play program.

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