Turning the Lights On Afterschool
October 18th marks the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool project of the Afterschool Alliance. To celebrate the importance of afterschool programs Lights On Afterschool rallies will take place across the country.
Youth spend approximately 2,000 hours outside of school during the year – that’s twice the number of hours spent in the classroom. Much of the achievement gap between lower-income and higher-income students is a result of what students experience outside the classroom.
Data shows that participating in opportunities for learning beyond the classroom has wide-ranging benefits:
- Young people do better in school – demonstrating improvement in attitudes, punctuality, responsibility, and performance.
- They acquire important life and social skills like communication and self-confidence and they improve their relationship-building.
- Young people are less likely to get involved in negative activities like delinquency, crime and drug/alcohol use.
- And they are overall healthier and make better food choices, increase their physical activity and fitness, and improve their body image.
Minnesota boasts more than 1,500 afterschool programs. Some are familiar mainstays, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YMCA. Others are not as well known but just as important – programs such as the Urban Arts Academy, Kaleidoscope Place and the Full Circle Community Institute.
What they all have in common is that they engage youth and provide them an opportunity to discover their passions. They can provide the spark for learning that carries over into the regular school day. Ultimately, these programs allow youth to achieve more in school, to be more confident in their personal interactions, and to feel more empowered to be leaders in their communities.
There are a number of local Lights On Afterschool celebrations happening across Minnesota. You can find them on the Afterschool Alliance website Afterschool Alliance – Find an Event. Watch for the Lights On Afterschool celebrations in your neighborhoods and give them a thumbs up when you see them. They need our support, they support the most important part of our future – our youth.
What’s your favorite afterschool memory? Let me know by posting a comment below.
Director of Public Policy and Communications