Vol. 7 Issue 9 (09/19/2006)
Top Stories
Rallies Planned from Coast-to-Coast for Lights On Afterschool
Unmet Need for Afterschool in Ohio
Kids Enjoy Healthier Snacks, Study Finds
Still Time to Take the Afterschool Survey!
Radio PSAs Available
Afterschool and the Best Communities for Young People
Essay Contest Reminder

In The News

Rallies Planned from Coast-to-Coast for Lights On Afterschool
Educators, parents, kids, and community and business leaders will urge policy makers to keep the lights on and the doors open after school at Lights On Afterschool events around the nation next month.

Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, this year's Lights On Afterschool will include some 7,500 events in the U.S. and at military bases around the world, with most events scheduled for October 12. At these events, Americans will urge their leaders to support the afterschool programs that keep children safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

Lights On Afterschool rallies give youth a chance to showcase the skills they learn and talents they develop at their afterschool programs, and to send the message that millions of kids have no place to go each weekday afternoon when the school day ends.

"Instead of receiving help with homework and a chance to explore their talents and interests, too many of our children are unsupervised and at risk in the afternoons," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "Americans are keenly aware that opportunities are lost when children have no safe, supervised activities after the school day ends. That is why Lights On Afterschool has grown so quickly."

From the steps of the State Capitol in Boise, to a motorcade in Philadelphia, to the beaches of Hawaii, afterschool programs are lining up fun and exciting venues for the seventh annual Lights On Afterschool. Events planned for this year include:

* A "Community Carnival" on the evening of October 12 in Tucson, Arizona, sponsored by the Flowing Wells School District's 21st Century Community Learning Centers and featuring student-created booths and activities.

* A "Bar-b-que Pep Rally" at Harmon Park with races, games, and other outdoor activities in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on October 12.

* A "Leadership and Policy Breakfast" with community leaders in San Francisco, California, on October 12, followed by a "Family Festival," sponsored by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, on October 14 for local families.

* A "Game Day" in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, featuring a sports tournament on October 12.

* An event on the steps of the State Capitol in Boise, Idaho, on October 6, with Governor Jim Risch signing a proclamation in support of Lights On Afterschool. Children's activities will take place at the Capitol, with 500 students from different afterschool programs participating. * A "Dare to Dream" career fair on October 9, in Waukegan, Illinois, that will bring members of the community together to discuss and offer insights into their specific careers. About 500 children are expected.

* A news conference on October 12 in Augusta, Maine, with Governor John Baldacci, who will read a proclamation supporting Lights On Afterschool, followed by an awards ceremony honoring exemplary programs. State Legislators are expected.

* A "Kids Fall Festival" on October 7, in Helena, Montana, with activities and performances including Native American dances, book readings and face painting.

* A motorcade on October 12 through the streets of Philadelphia to City Hall featuring cars decorated with Lights On Afterschool paraphernalia. Upon its arrival, there will be a press conference announcing the newly planned partnership between the Leadership Network and the Philadelphia Department of Recreation.

* A "Reading and Literacy Night" on October 12 at 13 afterschool program sites in Nashville, Tennessee. Elected officials will read from books written by children. After the readings, prizes will be given to the student authors.

"It is exciting to see the tremendously creative and diverse events being planned, with so many communities participating again this year," Grant added. "Our national rally does a tremendous amount to call attention to the need for more afterschool programs, which keep kids safe, help working families and inspire learning."

Lights On Afterschool was launched in October 2000 with 1,200 events across the country. Last year, a million people rallied at 7,500 events to show their support for afterschool programs. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is National Chair of Lights On Afterschool, a position he has held since 2001.

Make sure your Lights On Afterschool event is counted! To register your event, and receive posters and regular email updates, or to find an event in your community, visit www.afterschoolalliance.org/lights_on/index.cfm.

Unmet Need for Afterschool in Ohio
Although some Ohio afterschool programs have excess capacity, overall demand for afterschool programs in the state far exceeds supply. In fact, the state has a gap of more than 240,000 spaces in structured, affordable and convenient afterschool programs, according to a report released recently by the Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN). Afterschool Programming in Ohio - Supply and Demand Estimates finds that 30 percent of Ohio youth are in self-care arrangements, spending 7.5 hours per week unsupervised.

The study finds that the principle barriers to enrolling youth in afterschool programs are knowledge about programs and cost. To remove these barriers, it urges providers to ensure that new and existing programs are placed appropriately, priced reasonably and promoted effectively.

Afterschool Programming in Ohio concludes with a call to action to ensure that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs in Ohio.

The study is based on personal interviews and Internet-based surveys of state administrators and local afterschool providers, as well as 600 random digit dial telephone interviews of people in Ohio households with children age 5 to 18. It was conducted by The Strategy Team, Ltd., with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. For further information, contact the OAN at info@ohioafterschoolnetwork.org or visit www.ohioafterschoolnetwork.org/.

Kids Enjoy Healthier Snacks, Study Finds
A University of California at Davis study finds that changing the snack menu at afterschool programs to include healthier snack options can help low-income children - who tend to be at higher risk for obesity - by improving their eating habits and nutrition. The study focused on children in Students Today Achieving Results for Tomorrow (START) afterschool program, which serves 8,000 low-income children from 44 public elementary schools in Sacramento, Elk Grove and Rio Linda.

In 2002, START changed its snack vendor in order to include more fruits and vegetables, boost nutrition and save money. UC Davis researchers compared the nutritional content of the new menu of 17 snacks with that of the old menu of 15 snacks, and found that the new menu boosted the children's daily servings of fruit by 83 percent, reduced their daily consumption of saturated fat by 42 percent, and cut their overall caloric intake by seven percent.

"Even though school food programs have very limited budgets, this study suggests that, with leadership and a little bit of political will, food service for kids can really be improved," said Diana Cassady, assistant professor of public health sciences at UC Davis. Among the study's recommendations:

* Avoid serving desserts or chips.

* Offer kids foods that taste good. For example, serve sliced fruits with a low fat yogurt dip, or vegetables with a low-fat bean dip.

* Choose only 100 percent juices to avoid added sugars in nectars and punch. But whole fruit, because it has fiber, is a better choice than juice.

Richard Lincoln, program manager for Sacramento START, said the children enjoyed the change. "There are kids coming into our program who have never had fresh produce," he said. "We've found that they love getting fresh fruit, and it's been great seeing them discover that they like it."

More information on the study is available in the September 2006 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Still Time to Take the Afterschool Survey!
The Afterschool Alliance is continuing to accept responses to its survey of afterschool programs. Preliminary results found that afterschool programs are serving a high need population, serving more children than expected, and struggling to maintain their funding. It's not too late for your afterschool story to be included in this valuable study - the Alliance will release more results in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool. To complete the survey, which will take approximately 15 minutes, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=55232423346.

Radio PSAs Available
The Afterschool Alliance now has CDs with its youth-oriented Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for radio available to advocates. The theme of the spots is, "Things Can Get Pretty Ugly When You're Bored." They are available in English and Spanish, at various lengths. Preview the PSAs at www.afterschoolalliance.org/PSA_p1.cfm (scroll down to "Listen to the Radio Ads").

To request a CD, email your name, program and postal mail address to info@afterschoolalliance.org. The PSAs can be played at meetings, and offered to radio stations that can air them - and the Alliance will send helpful tips for placing the spots along with your CD. The tips are available online at www.afterschoolalliance.org/psa_p2.cfm.

Afterschool and the Best Communities for Young People
America's Promise is accepting applications from communities across the country for its second "100 Best Communities for Young People" competition. The competition celebrates the innovative efforts taking place in communities nationwide that provide healthy, safe and caring environments for young people. The initiative honors the hard work of local elected officials, businesses, nonprofit organizations and others who collaborate to meet the needs of children and youth.

Because afterschool programs do so much to support youth, afterschool providers are encouraged to collaborate with other local entities and submit an application. Winners of last year's contest received national media exposure and outreach assistance. Applications will be accepted through November 3. For further information on the "100 Best Communities" and to apply, visit www.americaspromise.org/100Best.aspx?id=968.

Essay Contest Reminder
By participating in the essay contest, "When an Apple a Day Isn't Enough," youth can support the Campaign for Children's Health Care's effort to raise awareness about the nine million children in this country who do not have health insurance and the millions more who are underinsured. Children ages nine to 18 should write about how the ability to go to the doctor or the hospital affects their lives and the lives of those around them. Winners will be selected from each state and will receive cash prizes. The afterschool program or institution that submits the most entries will receive a $2,000 cash award, to be used for school supplies. The contest will be accepting entries through October 13. More information is available at www.childrenshealthcampaign.org/events/national-essay-contest. Please contact Beth McCarthy at (202) 879-0299 or emccarthy@familiesusa.org with questions.

The Inupiaq community and Barrow school district officials are supporting afterschool programs as an effective way to address Barrow High School's 50 percent dropout rate and to combat growing drug use and violence among teens. The youth of this isolated Native American village on the Arctic coast requested more afterschool programs, specifically asking for a football team. This August, the Barrow Whalers played the first football game ever on the Arctic Tundra. According to the "Anchorage Daily News," the game has been a boon to the community; the young athletes gained confidence, and the ESPN network intends to produce a documentary about the team.

What began as a small afterschool program in north Minneapolis 17 years ago has grown into a successful business that also keeps teens off the streets and gives them paychecks, business skills and mentoring opportunities. The Cookie Cart has as many as 40 students enrolled at one time, and they are responsible for baking, decorating and packing hundreds of dozens of cookies. Bakery and employment director Toronda Richardson said the program plays a key role in the teens' lives, and told the Associated Press, "a lot of them, even at the tender age of 14, might be the only one working in their household." For more information, visit www.cookiecutter.org.

Teaching science to nearly 10,000 youngsters in afterschool programs is no easy task, but the "Youth Explorers" of the Carnegie Science Center's "Science in Your Neighborhood" program not only teach science, but they make it fun. The "Youth Explorers" are low-income middle and high school students who develop their own science curriculum and lead classes for which they are paid a stipend. Program director Ron Baillie told the "Pittsburgh Tribune Review," "In many cases, a lot of these kids would probably be on street corners&I don't know whether they'd all be able to find jobs& I'd say they're as dependable, or more so, than our staff." For more information on the program, go to www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/default.aspx?pageId=157.