Lights on Aftershool
There is a generational understanding of the power of the streetlight, one that is rooted in our collective consciousness; one that strongly resonates in my memories of growing up in Detroit. For most kids, the streetlight served as the universal signal to get home. I would find myself racing to make it home before that darn light kicked on. Throughout that sprint, porch lights would mix in with the lights from the living rooms of my neighbors. The light served as my guide through the community, leading me back to the confines of my family home.
Today, the light maintains a powerful symbol for youth and safe spaces. This Thursday, the lights of Detroit will serve as a call to action for access and engagement for all youth in afterschool programs. Lights on After School is a national experience that highlights the importance of afterschool programs and the impact on a young person’s ability to achieve better outcomes—in their current lives and for their future selves. Leaders from across the afterschool community in Detroit have organized experiences that support the national Lights on After School event. Our current context demands that our youth have access to these high-quality opportunities now more than ever.
The average student will spend 1,000 of their waking hours, an average of six hours per day, in school this year. That leaves 5,000 hours where they are awake, active, and engaging in their communities. During the school year, the time between 3:00 – 6:00p is critical for the safety and learning for young people. For some of our kids, this is spent engaging in activities and experiences that strengthen the various skills, knowledge, and experiences required for success in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, many of Detroit’s youth lack access to high-quality afterschool opportunities, wasting critical hours that could be used to meaningfully expand their learning beyond the walls of the classroom.
Over the years, the science behind after school has become undeniable:
- Afterschool programs help students achieve academically and are proven to increase graduation rates.
- Afterschool programs are proven to reduce dropout risk factors, improve behavior, boost student achievement, and support working parents so they can keep their jobs and support their families.
- Summer programs, workforce development, youth recreation, and other afterschool programs help keep kids safe and on a positive path.
As a community, we must commit to supporting our youth in their race to a better future. Throughout our neighborhoods, youth can gain meaningful learning in all different spaces. From barbershops to bus stops, our collective ability to activate our community in service of youth will set the stage for a better tomorrow—for our city and for our youth. So, as you pass by the streetlights on your way home today, ask yourself the question, “How are the Children?” And know that afterschool is a critical piece to that answer.
The Lights on Afterschool Celebration will take place Thursday, October 24, 2019, from 5:30 PM-7:00 PM at Spirit Plaza in Downtown Detroit. Click here to learn more and to register.