Children, business people and community leaders came together on Oct. 18 at a Lights On Afterschool rally at Brooks Elementary School in DeKalb.
The rally celebrated the achievements of students in the Y’s after-school programs and highlighted the need for more programs to serve the millions of children across the country who are unsupervised and at risk after school. The rally was one of 7,500 such events attended by more than a million people across the nation.
At the local rally, Sensei Tom Scott led students in a karate demonstration. DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen, state Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, and Kishwaukee YMCA CEO Rob Wilkinson discussed the importance of after-school programs.
“Lights On Afterschool celebrates the skills students learn at our after-school programs,” Wilkinson said in a news release. “It is a powerful reminder that after-school programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn and relieve working parents of worries about how their children spend their afternoons. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough after-school programs, and too many kids are unsupervised and exposed to crime or other risks each afternoon. We need to open more programs and protect the programs we have. I am personally committed to doing all I can to ensure that, in the very near future, every DeKalb child who needs an after-school program has one.”
The partnership with DeKalb School District allowed the Y to expand its reach and to serve more children after school. The Afterschool Program provides homework assistance, mentoring, healthy snacks and activities like sports, karate, team building and art.
A significant body of research demonstrates that students who attend after-school programs regularly are more likely to improve their grades, test scores and overall academic behavior. According to the Afterschool Alliance, more than 15 million school-age children – more than one in four kids in the United States – are unsupervised after the school day ends. The parents of 18 million children say they would enroll their kids in after-school programs if programs were available.