Triangle Students to Join in National Lights On Afterschool Rally

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After school’s out each day, where do your kids go? Are they safe, supervised by a caring adult, engaged in an activity they enjoy? Do they get exercise? Is someone there to listen if they have a concern? These questions are hard to answer for many parents who must juggle work, a limited budget and multiple family commitments, which is why excellent, affordable after-school programs are so important.

On Oct. 20, children across the nation and in U.S. military bases overseas will be showcasing the skills and interests they’ve developed at afterschool programs as part of the Lights On Afterschool rally. ??Organized by the Afterschool Alliance-which advocates nationally for affordable, quality after-school programs-the rally offers communities a chance to learn more about programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. More than a million people are expected to participate in more than 7,500 events, including some right here in the Triangle. Take a look at what local students will be doing.

In Durham, SeeSaw Studio, a free after-school program, will be hosting a visual arts exhibit of children’s work and a flash mob of youth advocating for after-school programs on Friday, Oct. 21, from 5-8:30 p.m. (raindate: Oct. 20, contact for details.) SeeSaw Studio, started in 1998, teaches design and entrepreneurship skills to teens ages 12-18 and is staffed by parents who volunteer their time.

The studio’s executive director, Michelle Gonzales-Green, was among 20 local leaders from 17 states chosen by the Afterschool Alliance as an ambassador to organize public events and advocate for after-school programs. She says the group will be giving out special light bulbs to downtown businesses and asking them to switch them on during the after-school event. “The hope is that we can canvas the neighborhood and get everybody involved within walking distance of our site so then there is the recognition that afterschool is important in our community,” she says. “Even if you don’t see the children, they are still being served [and that is] helping the working family.”

The alliance is urging parents to be vocal in their support for after-school programs, which it says are under intense pressure this year, with the Senate considering legislation to divert funds from after-school programs to other areas.

Why is after-school care so important? Consider these statistics from the Afterschool Alliance. Although the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak time for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex, 15.1 million U.S. children take care of themselves after the school day ends. And that reality is not what many parents want for their children. According to the alliance, the parents of 18.5 million children say their children would participate in an after-school care if one a program were available. And why not? A study of after-school programs receiving federal funds found that 45 percent of children improved their reading grades, and 41 percent improved their math grades.

For parents a good after-school program also offers you an unannounced benefit: Peace of mind knowing your child is in good hands.

Looking for after-school activities? Visit Carolina Parent’s directories for enrichment programs and classes, from cooking and dance classes to gymnastics, art and much more. Also, check our listings for fun track-out programs.



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