Cranston – Hundreds of students, parents and business and community leaders came together on Thursday, October 20th, 2016 at a Lights On Afterschool showcase at Gladstone Street Elementary School in Cranston, Rhode Island. The event celebrated the achievements of afterschool students and drew attention to the need for more afterschool programs to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon. The gathering was one of approximately 8,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs.
Nate Goodrich, Cranston Teacher and Bain+2 Instructor at the rally highlighted the work of students, afterschool providers and various community organizations and businesses that are supporting afterschool programming in the area, and celebrated the many benefits of afterschool programs. As at other Lights On Afterschool rallies across the nation, Cranston afterschool supporters urged lawmakers to keep supporting needed funding for afterschool programs.
Cranston’s Lights On Afterschool participants saw students showcase their science, technology, engineering, art, math, and computing program activities and perform Latin dance, while Superintendent Nota-Masse, Senator Reed, Aida Crosson from Senator Whitehouse’s office, 21st Century RI Director Jan Mermin, Joseph Morra from United Way, local celebrity Gary Balletto, Domenic Fusco Jr. and Jeffrey Gayle from the School Committee, Kidventure, Bain+2, and Camp XL program partnerships, local businesses including Lowes and Texas Roadhouse, parents and students discussed the importance of afterschool programs. This year marks the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool, sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance. More than a million Americans participated in today’s nationwide rally.
«Lights On Afterschool celebrates the broad range of skills students learn at afterschool programs,” Goodrich told the crowd. “Parents, educators and community leaders know that afterschool 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 afterschool programs, and too many kids are unsupervised 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 child who needs an afterschool program has one.”
“We are all extremely proud of our afterschool students and the incredible work they’re doing, especially when it comes to leadership,” said Ayana Crichton, Program Director, Expanded Learning Bain+2, Camp XL, and Kidventure. “Afterschool programs do an outstanding job of helping students succeed in school and in life. Like many other afterschool programs around the nation, ours is supported by funding from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, but we rely also on our parents, and on the generosity of our community partners.” Crichton serves as an Afterschool Ambassador for Rhode Island for the Afterschool Alliance.
Cranston’s 21st Century Community Learning Center opened in 2003 with a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant at Hugh B. Bain Middle School. Currently the programs offers Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math plus Computing 5 days a week. Bain+2, Kidventure and Camp XL serves 500 children, at two different sites, providing homework assistance, mentoring, academic support and clubs, reading, mathematics, gardening, coding and other subjects. The programs have many partnerships including Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Cranston Public Library, and Mystic Aquarium through the Sea Research Foundation. More information is available at www.cranstonafterschool.com.
The America After 3PM household survey of more than 30,000 families, commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, found that participation in afterschool programs has increased to 10.2 million students nationwide, up from 6.5 million in 2004. But the unmet demand for afterschool programs has increased as well. Today, for every child in an afterschool program, there are two more whose parents say they would participate, if a program were available. Unmet demand is especially high in rural communities and communities of concentrated poverty. One in five students in the United States today is unsupervised after the school day ends.
For the tenth consecutive year, the Empire State Building is being lit up in yellow for Lights on Afterschool this evening. Among the more than 100 Lights On Afterschool partners this year are Boys & Girls Clubs of America, After-School All-Stars, Voices for Healthy Kids and Association of Science-Technology Centers. For a complete list of national Lights On Afterschool partners, visit http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/loaNatPartners.cfm.
More information on the Afterschool Alliance and Lights On Afterschool is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.