The Kansas Enrichment Network (KEN) hosted a Lights On Afterschool event last Friday on the Kansas Statehouse steps to encourage community support of afterschool programs. “[Afterschool activities] help the working families because they provide a safe learning environment for their students between 3 and 6 p.m. so they get a snack, they get homework help, and then they do enrichment activities, and then some wellness activities,” KEN research project manager Rachel Willis told WIBW. As part of the celebration, students took a tour of the Statehouse, participated in a scavenger hunt and played kickball on the Statehouse lawn. Governor Sam Brownback also proclaimed October 26 Lights On Afterschool Day in support.
Last Wednesday, students in the Tapestry and EPIC afterschool programs celebrated Lights On Afterschool with a glow-in-the-dark party. State Senator Brian Collamore attended the event. Tapestry and EPIC provide about 300 students with academic support, socialization and a creative outlet during the afterschool hours. “I was so happy when we started coming to Rutland Town to know that the Tapestry program was here. Just knowing that the kids had a place that’s safe and fun and academically engaging to be after school while we were working,” Sheryn Whalen, a mother of two Tapestry Program participants, told the Rutland Herald.
The Somali Kulan Community, along with many other local afterschool programs, celebrated Lights On Afterschool this week. The afterschool program is held in a converted apartment space through a partnership with Rochester Public Schools. “It’s another chance for our kids to work with their peers and supportive adults in a positive environment,” Rochester Public Schools director of community education Amy Eich told the Post Bulletin. The program provides students a place to receive academic support, food, sports, college preparation and more.
In a letter to the editor of the North Kentucky Tribune, Covington Partners Program Director and Afterschool Ambassador Tom Haggard details the importance of access to afterschool programs: “This Thursday, several hundred parents, students, educators, business leaders, policymakers and others will come together across our region to mark the 18th annual Lights On Afterschool, the nation’s only nationwide celebration of afterschool programs…. But because of funding difficulties, we don’t have nearly enough programs…. Our challenge in the afterschool movement: To make sure every child in the nation has access to afterschool.”