A record-breaking 9,300 Lights On Afterschool events celebrating afterschool programs and young people were held around the country this month. In addition to recognizing the value and impact of afterschool programs on young people and their communities, Lights On Afterschool continued this year to be an opportunity to reach policy makers. Friends of afterschool, including parents and children, sent and made more than 600 emails and phone calls to Members of Congress last week. They also signed an online petition in support of afterschool, and now more than 10,900 individuals have signed on to urge that funding for afterschool programs should not be denied or diverted. Lights On Afterschool events also registered voters and raised awareness about the role elected officials play in supporting afterschool program opportunities for young people.
“In 2001, I wrote legislation that led to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Children who regularly attend these programs have better grades and behavior in school; lower incidences of drug use and pregnancy; and are less likely to be either the perpetrators or victims of crime. Lights On Afterschool highlights the importance of high-quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families, and their communities.”
Members of Congress were also present at a number of Lights On Afterschool events, including Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who attended an event in Cranston, RI. Cicilline also serves on the Board of Directors of the Afterschool Alliance. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) spoke to students at a second event in Rhode Island last Friday morning. At a Lights On Afterschool rally in White Plains, NY, House Afterschool Caucus Co-chair Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) spoke to a packed crowd about the value of keeping the lights on after school.
"In today's knowledge economy, America's standard school day and year are simply too short to provide our students with the time and resources they need to earn a well-rounded, world-class education. Afterschool programs can provide a safe and engaging place where children can be productive after the school day ends. I commend the Afterschool Alliance for their advocacy on behalf of children and families who need and benefit from these programs. Lights On Afterschool celebrates schools serving as community centers and shines a spotlight on programs.”