More than one million people gathered at more than 9,000 sites across the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide to participate in the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs. At Lights On Afterschool events, students conducted science experiments, showcased artwork, performed on stage, learned about healthy eating, participated in sports tournaments, spruced up parks and nature trails, and sent the message that millions more children need quality afterschool programs. For the sixth year in a row, the Empire State Building in New York City was lit up this evening in honor of the event.
Uncertain Times, a survey of afterschool programs released recently, revealed that programs across the country are struggling to keep their doors open. At this year’s Lights On Afterschool events, communities rallied behind these programs and urged Members of Congress to increase federal afterschool funding and reject efforts to divert funds intended for afterschool programs.
For years, the federal investment in afterschool has lagged far behind the need. The No Child Left Behind Act authorized $2.5 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (the chief federal funding stream for afterschool) in 2007, yet funding stands at less than half that today. Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow other programs to compete for already-limited 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds. Forty-eight governors issued Lights on Afterschool proclamations.
Bleckley County’s 21st Century Community Learning Center participated in Lights On Afterschool for the first time on October 18, 2012. The event was hosted at the 21st CCLC site and served as an interactive Open House event for parents and students. Parents and students were able to take family photos in the Lights On Afterschool photo booth which included silly hand-held props! Parents were encouraged to participate in enrichment activities with their student. Light refreshments were served.