By Robert Abare
Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in commemoration of the 17th annual celebration of Lights On Afterschool. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) praised the passage of the resolution, which recognizes the only national celebration of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, insipiring them to learn and helping working families.
"I am so pleased that the Senate recognizes the importance of high-quality afterschool programs,” said Senator Boxer. “These programs help keep our children safe, improve student performance and enrich our kids’ education with activities like music, art, sports and so much more.”
“Afterschool programs provide an enriching environment for students once the school day has ended,” said Senator Collins. “By engaging young people in academic and physical activities, these programs enhance students’ education and help promote healthy habits. In addition, afterschool programs provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and structured setting.”
This resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Al Franken (D-MN).
Senator Boxer authored legislation in 2001 that lead to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Last year, Senator Boxer’s Afterschool for America’s Children Act was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by President Obama last December. This provision not only ensured a dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool, but will help to modernize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, improve states’ ability to effectively support quality afterschool programs, and ensure afterschool activities complement the academic curriculum.
Register for Lights On and you could win!
Next month, more than one million people are expected to attend more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events across the nation. It's not too late to start planning an event in your community! Register for Lights On Afterschool by October 6, and you'll be entered to win a prize pack from WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, which allows kids to author and publish their very own children's books!
By Robert Abare
Written by Griffin Schwed, Integrated Marketing Manager at National 4-H Council
Since 2008, 4-H National Youth Science Day has engaged millions of youth around the world in exciting and innovative STEM learning and experiences, from wind power to robotics to rocketry. This year, the 4-H NYSD challenge is soaring to new heights with the 2016 National Science Challenge, Drone Discovery, developed by Cornell University Cooperative Extension.
This year's hands-on science challenge explores the science behind drones and how they are being used to solve real world problems. Youth will learn everything from flight dynamics and aircraft types, to remote sensing and flight control, as well as safety and regulations.
While the official 4-H NYSD event takes place on October 5, 2016 in Washington, D.C., clubs, groups and schools around the world are also inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders, all taking part in what is known as the world’s largest, youth-led science event.
Participating in 4-H National Youth Science Day is easy:
- Purchase a 4-H NYSD Challenge Kit. Each kit includes all the necessary items needed to participate in the challenge, including youth and facilitator guide books and experiment materials. Kits are available for purchase now on the 4-H Mall.
- Register your event. Simply create a 4-H NYSD membership account to receive helpful resources and materials and see your local event showcased on our national 4-H NYSD map.
- Join the conversation on social media. Share your event photos and videos using hashtag #4HNYSD. Your event could be featured nationally!
So what are you waiting for? Put what you know about engineering, drones and flight into action. Purchase your kit, register your event, and get ready to take flight in this worldwide science phenomenon!
By Robert Abare
After reviewing hundreds of submissions from afterschool artists from across the country (and the world!), the Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program in Bay Minette, Alabama!
The winning artwork will be printed on 50,000 posters and sent to all registered Lights On Afterschool events to help spread the word about the celebration. Register your event today to receive ten free posters!
About the artists
The winning poster was designed by program participants Maia Austin (17), Gabby Williams (17), and Marquez Drinkard (16). The artists were particularly inspired by the many arts activities offered by their afterschool program, including dance teams, visual art projects and cooking classes. The finished product was truly a team effort, as the poster is comprised of many separate drawings that were cut out and then pasted together.
“We talked about our favorite aspects of our program, and then we decided what we wanted the poster to look like, and who would draw each part.” explained Marquez. “As you can see, we wanted it to be very colorful as well.”
Marquez, who is still figuring out his plans for after high school, is considering a career in nursing, along with fellow artist Maia Austin. Gabby Williams, on the other hand, plans to serve in the United States Air Force.
About the program
Gabby expressed her gratitude for the opportunities offered by Baldwin County High School’s 21st CCLC program. “I love the program because it’s something productive I can do after school,” she said. “I really like the cooking classes, and being with my friends at the same time.”
She added, “My parents think the program is great, because it keeps me busy when I could be doing things that kids aren’t supposed to do.”
The Baldwin County High School 21st CCLC program serves approximately 40 students 4 days per week, and offers a range of activities that include tutoring, arts enrichment, archery, college and career exploration, and robotics.
Michele Hall, director of the program, explained how the program has provided a valuable service for her community’s kids after school. “As a teacher at the high school, I saw that we had a large number of students who were not involved after school and didn’t have opportunities, partly due to our rural location,” she explained. “Now, the program is helping these kids grow academically and socially.”
About the contest
This year, the Lights On Afterschool poster contest received over 400 submissions from 21 states—and from a U.S. military base in Japan! The poster was selected in a vote by Afterschool Alliance staff in Washington, D.C.
The winning artists’ program will receive a case of syrups, courtesy of Torani, for a shaved ice or soda party. Visit the redesigned Lights On Afterschool website to search for event ideas, learn strategies to engage the media and download graphics and artwork to make your event shine.
And don’t forget to register your event to get 10 copies of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool in your program’s mailbox!
By Robert Abare
Written by Chanelle Ignant, Youth Participation Coordinator at KQED, and Rachel Roberson, who leads the Letters to the Next President project for KQED. Also check out the Celebrate Youth Voices event idea for Lights On Afterschool 2016.
Sign up for the upcoming Lights On Afterschool webinar "Engaging Youth Voice & Letters to the Next President" next Thursday, August 25 at 1 PM ET.
Youth tap a deep vein of self-expression with spoken word performance. Whether they are speaking out against injustice or asserting an opinion, spoken word helps young people make their voices heard.
With the election fast approaching, spoken word is one of many ways youth can express their views on issues that mean most to them. Teens can then publish their views on national platforms like Letters to the Next President 2.0, which launched in August.
But it takes time, patience and an open mind on the part of a mentor to help make spoken word happen.
“You can’t start with your own assumptions or preconceptions about what young people are interested in, what they’re into, what their cultural orientation is based on their appearance or on any demographic data that you have,” says M.C. K~Swift, a senior poet mentor with Youth Speaks Bay Area. “You have to start really with who they are, and find out who they are from them not from anyone else.”
Once mentors discover what youth are interested in, it’s time to write. And write. And write some more. M.C. K~Swift recommends building trust by asking questions and keeping an open mind.
“When I’m talking to young people I find myself saying, “I don’t know about that, can you tell me more,” M.C. K~Swift says.
Mentors who are writers themselves can provide guidance. But it’s hard to teach what you don’t know.
“If you don’t love writing you can’t convince anyone else to. So be honest with yourself. If you don’t practice writing then you can’t be a guide in that practice,” M.C. K~Swift says. He recommends bringing in a writing instructor, creative artist or expert within your organization, if needed.
M.C. K~Swift recently led a spoken word workshop at The Mix, San Francisco Public Library’s innovative teen space. The month-long series drew group of 12 young people interested in exploring the spoken word format.
By Robert Abare
|The new look of Lights On Afterschool|
Registration is now open for the nation’s only celebration of afterschool programs! Mark your calendars for Lights On Afterschool: October 20, 2016, and then start preparing for your event by registering today.
Last year’s Lights On Afterschool saw more than 1 million Americans celebrate at 8,200 events across the country. This year, we’re launching a redesigned logo and website along with updated resources to make Lights On Afterschool bigger and brighter than ever.
Top reasons to register today
- If you register before August 18, you’ll be entered to win a Lights On Afterschool gift pack full of fun swag to hand out to kids and visitors at your event.
- Receive 10 free copies of this year’s poster to help spread the word about your event. (Stay tuned to the Afterschool Snack learn this year’s winner of the poster design contest!)
- Get priority registration for our Lights On Afterschool webinar series.
- Place your event on our national map of Lights On Afterschool events.
- Start receiving Lights On Afterschool emails that walk you through our redesigned resources, this year’s top event themes and ideas, and more.
More things to check out on the new Lights On Afterschool website
- Register your event on our updated registration page.
- View all the steps that go into planning an event—from elaborate community fairs to simple open houses—by viewing our interactive planning timeline.
- Search for event ideas by theme, how much time you have, and level of difficulty.
Start getting the word out today! Share your plans for this year's #LightsOnAfterschool on social media and you could get highlighted by the official Afterschool Alliance accounts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
By Robert Abare
|From left to right, the winners of the 2015, 2014 and 2013 Lights On Afterschool poster contests|
Summer is here! Why not use the spare time to design a piece of artwork that could be published across the world? The 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest has a new deadline: July 15, 2016. Afterschool or summer learning program participants are encouraged to design, craft and submit their work following these submission guidelines before the deadline for a chance to win.
Why submit to the contest?
The afterschool or summer learning program home to the winning artist will recieve a set of flavored syrups to make-your-own soda, flavored ice or more, courtesy of Torani! The winning artist will also be featured on our website, blog and a national press release. The 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest is also a great opportunity for an afterschool or summer learning program to gain national recognition for the opportunities it offers, as the winning artist's afterschool program will be credited on the poster, too!
What should a poster submission look like?
Be creative! We love to see bright colors, bold designs, and art that communicates the joyful spirit of Lights On Afterschool and celebrates the opportunities made possible by out-of-school time programs. Keep in mind that the winning artwork will need to be scanned to become a digital image, so avoid using textures or raised materials. Materials that won’t smear or rub off—like markers, paint and pens—often work better than crayons, watercolors or chalk.
You can also gain inspiration by viewing this gallery of previous winners.
How do I send in submissions?
Follow these submission guidelines to enter the contest.
When are the poster submissions due?
July 15, 2016! Unleash your participants' inner artists and start designing today!
By Shaun Gray
|Last year's winning poster was designed by Hicksville Boys & Girls Club of NY.|
Calling all afterschool artists! Your artwork could be displayed at more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events around the world. Click here to learn how to submit a poster for the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest!
We’re looking for eye-catching creatitivty to showcase on this year's Lights On Afterschool poster. Last year, we received thousands of youth artwork submissions from afterschool programs across the nation. Once again for 2016, we’re encouraging all afterschool program participants to submit artwork that celebrates afterschool programs and conveys the importance of keeping the Lights On Afterschool.
We all know how afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire kids to learn. Now's the time to encourage your afterschool participants to show the world how afterschool has benefited their lives!
The 2016 Lights On Afterschool Poster contest is also a great opportunity for an afterschool program to gain national recognition for the opportunities it offers, as the winning artist's afterschool program will be credited on the poster, too! The winning design will be printed on tens of thousands of posters and mailed to more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events worldwide. The winning artist will also be featured on our website, blog and a national press release.
The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2016.
Contest details and submission guidelines are available for download now. Keep in mind that the winning artwork will need to be scanned to become a digital image, so avoid using textures or raised materials. We love bright colors that jump off the poster, so materials that won’t smear or rub off—like markers, paint and pens—often work better than crayons, watercolors or chalk.
Feel free to get your future graphic designers and computer programmers involved by encouraging them to submit their artwork in the digital form. Unleash your creativity and get designing!
By Robert Abare
Erika Eatmon is Project Manager for the Birmingham Regional Empowerment and Development Center (BREAD) of Birmingham, AL.
In celebration of Lights on Afterschool this year, we had the opportunity through the Afterschool Alliance to partner with Bright House Networks and bring students to McWane Science Center, where they participated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities. Two of our Birmingham Regional Empowerment and Development Center (BREAD) sites participated in the field trip and engaged in fun, hands-on science experiments. Students had a great time learning about the many ways that science is integrated into our everyday lives.
Students who joined our afterschool field trip to McWane Science Center became spectators and participants in a Super Science Show, where science becomes an interactive circus! The students discovered the wonders of liquid nitrogen, witnessed the power of explosions, and tested out the shocking world of electricity. After the show, the students enjoyed exploring the Science Exhibits. For several of our students, this was their first time going on a field trip, and they were so excited!
Students who didn’t join our field trip still got the chance to participate in McWane Science Center’s outreach programs at our campus. During the outreach program’s two visits, students completed hands on learning activities through a “Liquid Lab” and “Enlightening Electricity” activity.
During Liquid Lab, kindergarten through second-graders learned what a liquid is and how it differs from a solid or gas. Students also learned the basic properties of liquids, like cohesion and density. Enlightening Electricity was geared toward our third- through eighth-graders. During this activity, students learned the difference between a conductor and an insulator, how a circuit works, and the difference between static and current electricity. Not only did these interactive activities provide our students with important STEM lessons, they made learning fun!
The world of STEM is truly all around us, and afterschool is a great place for students to unlock its many wonders. Furthermore, many students begin developing career interests at a young age, and introducing them to STEM early-on may make it easier for them to pursue a challenging—yet rewarding—STEM career path.