Children from the afterschool Armed Services YMCA Child Development Center program put on their funny faces for the camera along with the ASYMCA mascot, parents and teachers while attending the Lights On After School program Oct. 21. Photo by Clarence Giles, Monitor Staff.
Armed Services YMCA Lights On Afterschool program
A nationwide survey conducted by the Afterschool Alliance found that more than a quarter of the school-going population – more than 15 million children – go unsupervised during late afternoons and evenings.
Moreover, according to the same report, more than 18 million parents said they would enroll their child in an afterschool program if it were available in their community.
Afterschool Alliance also reported that their 11th annual Lights On Afterschool event involved more than 7,580 rallies across the country, a U.S. Senate resolution and proclamations from 50 governors that designated Oct. 21 as Lights On Afterschool Day.
The El Paso Armed Services YMCA was no exception to the nationwide effort as they celebrated Lights On Afterschool that day with educational and entertaining activities, such as dancing, watching drill teams from the local high schools and interacting with a larger-than-life ASYMCA mascot.
The program aims to increase awareness of the importance of afterschool programs.
Led by Ana Coleman, child care director at the ASYMCA CDC program, encourages the children to “bounce” to the music. Photo by Clarence Giles, Monitor Staff.
Jose Melendez, executive director of the ASYMCA, said in a news release, there is “remarkable work being done by students who attended our afterschool programs,” adding, “it’s a powerful reminder that after school keeps children safe, inspires them to learn and relieves parents of worries about how their children spend their afternoons.”
He also said it was unfortunate that there weren’t enough afterschool programs and there were too many children alone at home in the afternoon who ordinarily would receive some benefit. Melendez called for expansion and refusal of policies that might endanger existing programs.
Speaking for his program, Melendez said, “Here at the ASYMCA we are committed to doing all we can toward this initiative and look to expand our program in the future. I believe every El Paso child who needs an afterschool program should have one. Children need physical exercise – they need to be challenged and encouraged.
“There is 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 children in the afternoon.”