Youth Program hosts Lights on Afterschool Rally

  • Published
  • By Erin Arel
  • 366th Force Support Squadron
Youth, parents and community leaders came together at Mountain Home Air Force Base Youth Center for a Lights on Afterschool rally, Oct. 24, 2018.

The rally focused on celebrating the achievements of afterschool students, and to draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs to serve millions of youth nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon.

“We are all very proud of our afterschool youth,” said Erin Arel, 366th Force Support Squadron school age coordinator. “There’s no reason that learning should stop at 3 p.m., particularly if the alternative is unsupervised time in front of a television set, or any of the dangerous or unhealthy behaviors that can ensnare youth in the afternoons.”

The gathering was one of more than 8,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open after school.

Participants in the Youth Center’s Lights on Afterschool event were given the opportunity to see firsthand the outcomes of afterschool programs. MHAFB youth displayed activities they do afterschool like collaborative artwork, Junior First Lego League, First Lego League, slime club, photography and more.

Additionally, youth were interviewed about the importance of afterschool programs and what these programs meant to them.

Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool has been celebrated annually since the year 2000. This year, more than one million Americans took part in the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs.

Recent data from America After 3 p.m., a research series on afterschool programs commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, shows a vast unmet demand for afterschool programs nationwide.

In Idaho, 23,361 youth participate in an afterschool program, yet 111,583 more would be enrolled if a program were available. Further, 90 percent of Idaho’s parents are satisfied with their youth’s afterschool program, and 87 percent agree that afterschool programs give working parents a peace of mind. More work needs to be done to meet the great need for afterschool programs that keep Idaho’s kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

Jordyn Funk, 2018 Idaho Military Youth of the Year, spoke at this year’s Lights on Afterschool rally. She imparted words of wisdom to the youth, telling them to keep coming to the Youth Center because the relationships supporters make, the opportunities given to the youth, and the lasting impact of afterschool programs is something that can never be forgotten.