At the Afterschool Alliance, we spend a substantial part of our year focusing on Lights On Afterschool; when it finally happens, we’re running to keep up! We couldn’t wait to head out of the office (and sometimes out of the state) to explore the amazing programs and events that opened their doors to celebrate on October 26.
In our own words, here’s a small selection of where we were, what we saw, and who we met during this year’s Lights On Afterschool.
Andrews Air Force Base loves afterschool
“I had the pleasure of celebrating Lights On Afterschool with Matrice Brooks and the rest of the Youth Program staff on Andrews Air Force Base,” said Shaun Gray, production and office manager. “As parents entered to pick up their kids, local youth programs were set up in the main area to offer sign-ups for sporting, art, and reading programs. McGruff the Crime Dog made an appearance but the highlight of the day was Sparky, a remote-controlled dog in a firetruck that sprays water.”
Glowing bright in Tuscon, AZ
“We visited KIDCO, an afterschool program from the Tucson Parks and Rec department that serves 800 students during the school year and 1,200 students during the summer,” wrote Andrea Szegedy-Maszak, our field outreach coordinator. “Their event was held in the beautiful Reid Park in Tucson, with an hour of lawn games before each KIDCO site performed a dance routine with a “decades” theme. More than 200 people attended the event, which kicked off with a group countdown until everyone cracked a glowstick and cheered for Lights On Afterschool!”
Afterschool in the city
Arielle Kahn, our new special assistant to the executive director, went with a big team to Southeast D.C. “Jodi, Leah, Maria, Dan, and I went to the AfterSchool All-Stars Lights On event at Hart Middle School. The kids seemed to love their afterschool programs and were excited to showcase what they had been working on. There were multiple dance performances, a drum line, a fashion show, and a spoken word performance. My personal favorite was a presentation of a quilt they spray painted for breast cancer awareness month. Some of the students sang “halo” while their teacher explained how he wanted to change the narrative around spray painting. Jodi and Dr. Lyles from the Department of Education both spoke at the event. This was my first time visiting an afterschool program in D.C. and I left feeling so inspired and proud.”
Bully-free fun in Alexandria, VA
“Mike and I celebrated Lights On with the City of Alexandria Parks and Rec. afterschool program,” our VP of Policy, Erik Peterson, reported. “They have eight sites – all doing events today. At Mt. Vernon Rec Center about 175 student in grade K-5 from neighboring Mt. Vernon Community School (59 percent free/reduced lunch) participate in the afterschool program daily. All of their Lights On events this week are being held in conjunction with the Bully Free Starts With Me campaign launched by the Mayor of Alexandria. Students played bully-free bingo, did role-playing, and had an interactive discussion on bullying. The staff were amazing and the kids were super engaged.”
Mayor visits and Halloween treats in MD
Charlotte Steinecke, the communications manager, headed up the red line to visit a Lights On event. “Takoma Park’s Afternoon Addition hosted a wonderful celebration! Tiny Chefs came in to help elementary and middle schoolers make dirt cup cakes (gummy worms galore) and the mayor of Takoma Park, Kate Stewart, came to meet with the kids. Takoma Park City TV filmed the event and caught a couple of interviews with attendees and participants to talk a little bit about the event while the kids worked on their desserts. This was Afternoon Addition’s first Lights On Afterschool and it sounds like they loved it! The coordinator is already looking forward to participating next year.”