Lights On Afterschool, a 16-year-old program of the Afterschool Alliance, was celebrated this week around the country. In New York, nearly 400 schools participated in afternoon and evening festivities to increase public awareness about the importance of afterschool programs, and Governor Andrew Cuomo named October 22 Lights On Afterschool Day. Various activities were planned around the day at many Child Center of NY partner school locations: At COMPASS P.S. 223, Broadway was the theme of the evening; at Beacon 43, students celebrated a “Worldwide Day of Play.”
At Basie Beacon Middle School 72, where afterschool programs are also tantamount to the success of its students and the community it serves, the theme listed on the program was literacy, but the evening’s events offered so much more.
Basie’s presentations by elementary, middle, and high schoolers alike began with a focus on the three branches of government. Students strutted their stuff in other ways, too, with an African dance ensemble performance, a violin soloist, and a pre-politico running for Youth Council who seized the opportunity to campaign further. On-site Sheltering Arms/Safe Space NYC staff informed the audience about its availability, and teachers and administrators were also on hand to talk about their work. In another room, posterboards displayed Breast Cancer Awareness appeals and other projects hand-created during the school’s diverse extracurricular programs.
“Lights On is a great idea to let the community know about what services are available to them,” said Kidwise Supervisor Adriana Scott-Wolf, one of the evening’s presenters, who manages the in-school clinic.
Tyheema Marvin, one of The Child Center’s passionate youth advocates, presented on the College and Career Readiness program and introduced several students she has been working with, both to prepare them for college and beyond and to set examples for younger afterschool participants. Youth advocates maintain regular contact with deans, teachers, family members, and of course the students themselves to ensure that they are in school and keeping up with their assignments. Advocates receive and monitor report cards and are available for assistance with both academic and social challenges.
Marvin’s students were inducted into the CCR program in seventh grade as and have been going strong ever since, commuting by bus to get to the school when their classes (at other schools) let out in the afternoon. In addition to their own college prep, they volunteer in the community by teaching senior citizens how to use smartphones, reading to younger children, and participating in other activities to help others, all under The Child Center CCR umbrella.
Fatoumata, a 10th grader, said she benefits from the afterschool programs mainly because, “If you want to succeed, you have to keep your priorities straight,” and that Marvin and another youth advocate, Joleen Shillingford, had helped her make those priorities and set goals. “Someone has to be there to make me feel engaged,” she explained further.
Jonae, also in 10th grade, said, “I’ve been on the honor roll since sixth grade because of the tutoring offered by The Child Center of NY.”
And Unique, a senior, also extolled the virtues of the tutoring and mentoring she has received over the years: “Starting high school, I wasn’t on the right track, but becoming active with CCR and Beacon, my grades shot up.”
See The Forum’s media coverage of this event.