W.Va. Afterschool Programs to Participate in National Event

October 09, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Children, parents, businesses and community leaders are invited to participate in the national Lights On Afterschool celebration on Oct. 16, at the Capitol in Charleston from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The main event also coincides with regional celebrations across West Virginia.

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, including West Virginia.


“The afterschool programs offered through the West Virginia Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers provide meaningful activities for our children during the hours when many parents are working,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine said. "These programs keep kids safe and secure, helping working families and inspiring children to learn.”


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


“Research tells us that 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 afterschool 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 will include student performances, informational booths and exhibits as well as activities for children.



For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699 or  Jane Hange, director of the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network at (304) 720-9882.


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