W.Va. to Participate in National Lights On Afterschool Rally

September 20, 2006

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Children, parents, businesses and community leaders are invited to participate in the national Lights On Afterschool celebration on Oct. 12, 2006, at the Capitol in Charleston from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  

Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool is the nation's largest rally for after school programs. As many as 1 million Americans are expected to participate in more than 7,500 events in every corner of the country.  

"Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families, inspire children to learn and boost their self-esteem,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “The after school programs offered through the West Virginia Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers provide meaningful activities for our children in a safe and secure environment during the hours when many parents are working.”  

Across the United States, about 14.3 million children in America are alone and unsupervised after the school bell rings each day. That’s one in four youth.  

This is especially troubling because the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. can be a dangerous period for children spending time alone. Kids are most likely to experiment with risky behavior when parents or other adults are not able to make sure their children are participating in safe and responsible activities.  

“Study after study shows students who participate in extracurricular activities have better grades, feel greater attachment to school, have lower truancy rates and reach higher levels of achievement in college,” Paine said. “Our efforts are making a difference.”  

West Virginia’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers assist students, particularly in high poverty schools, who need help meeting standards in the core content areas such as reading, math and science. They also help families of these students who need literacy and related educational development.  

Lights On Afterschool was launched in October 2000 with celebrations in more than 1,200 communities nationwide.  

West Virginia’s event this year will include informational booths and activities for children, including Jupiter Jump and wall climbing. Special guests will include First Lady Gayle Manchin, Miss West Virginia, various legislative and educational representatives, and Melissa Mullin, a representative of the J.C. Penny Afterschool Alliance, a major supporter of the after school initiative.  

For more information, contact Sallie Harrington, administrator of the West Virginia Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, at (304) 558-7881 or David McCutcheon, director of Roane County’s 21st Century Community Learning Center in Spencer, at (304) 927-1997.

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