Hundreds of children, parents, business and community leaders will celebrate the achievements of local afterschool programs at a Lights on Afterschool rally at Bentleyville in Bayfront Festival Park on October 23 at 6:30 p.m.
The event is sponsored by hosted by the Duluth Area Family YMCA.
The gathering is one of more than 8,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open after school. Speakers at the rally will celebrate the many benefits of afterschool programs, and will encourage lawmakers, businesses and other to support afterschool funding.
More afterschool programs are needed to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon.
This year, Bentleyville will be doing a ceremonial lighting of the Duluth Arial Lift Bridge display for Lights on Afterschool. In Duluth, True North AmeriCorps plays an important role in afterschool by placing around 40 AmeriCorps members in these programs each year. These individuals are trained to provide high quality mentoring and academic enrichment interventions increasing the programs’ capacity to serve youth and supporting kids’ success in school and in life.
Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool has been celebrated annually since 2000. This year, more than one million Americans plan to take part in the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs.
Recent data from the America After 3PM report, commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, shows a vast unmet demand for afterschool programs nationwide. In Minnesota, 15% children participate in an afterschool program, yet 20% would be enrolled if a program were available.
Further, 95% percent of Minnesota’s parents are satisfied with their child’s afterschool program. More work needs to be done to meet the great need for afterschool programs that keep Minnesota’s kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
Lights on Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work being done by students. It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs offer a range of supports to children and families.
“We are all very proud of our afterschool students,” said Melissa Fanning, Executive Director of the Community Services Branch at the YMCA. “There’s no reason that learning should stop at 3 p.m., particularly if the alternative is unsupervised time in front of a television set, or any of the dangerous or unhealthy behaviors that can ensnare children in the afternoons. Our programs get youth excited about learning, help them develop critical skills, and ensure that they stay on track for a bright and successful future.”
Thank you to our local supporters, Duluth Public Schools, Duluth Edison Charter Schools, Head of the Lakes United Way, Gary New Duluth Alliance, HRA and the City of Duluth-Park and Rec. The City of Duluth’s generous support allows True North AmeriCorps Members to serve youth in afterschool programs that wouldn’t otherwise be able to host a member.
Lights on Afterschool is organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs. More information on the Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool and America After 3PM is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.