On October 20, 2016, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation’s before and after school program, Extended School Enrichment (ESE) linked with more than a million people in communities across the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide to celebrate the 17th Annual Lights On Afterschool. Event organizers expected over 8,000 afterschool programs to participate in this one-day national rally for afterschool by holding 5K runs, science exhibits, service learning events, youth-driven music and dance recitals, sports exhibitions, open houses and other events at schools, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, museums, community centers, parks, state capitols, malls and other settings. All of these occasions are designed to show the skills participants refine and talents they cultivate at their various afterschool programs.
Lights On Afterschool is organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is “to ensure that all children have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs.” This event is meant to underscore the need to invest in afterschool programs, which provide youth with academic assistance, healthy snacks, positive role models, activities to increase physical fitness, stimulating art projects, technology education, music instruction, as well as countless opportunities for applied learning. Lights On Afterschool is an annual event that gives programs all across the country the opportunity to open their doors so family members as well as members of the community can see the dynamic, fun, educational activities they offer to participants on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough afterschool programs to meet the need in the United States, and children, families, schools, businesses and communities pay the price for the lack of programs. In 2014, the America After 3PM household survey of more than 30,000 families, commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, found that involvement in afterschool programs has increased to 10.2 million participants nationwide, up from 6.5 million in 2004. The demand for afterschool programs has increased as well. Currently, for every one child in an afterschool program, there are two more children whose parents/guardians say they would take part, if a program were available. This demand is particularly unmet in rural communities and communities of concentrated poverty. Today, one in five students in the United States is left unsupervised and unattended after the school day ends.
This annual Lights On Afterschool event is designed, in part, to bring new awareness and opportunities at the federal, state and local ranks to better meet the increased call for quality afterschool programs. A mounting body of evidence demonstrates that youth involved in afterschool programs show improvements in attendance, behavior, academic achievement and more. Researchers have also found that afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement – an important building block for student success.
On a local level, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation is proud to offer ESE, a before and after school program at each of the eleven Carmel elementary schools, to Carmel Clay School students in Kindergarten through Sixth grade. Mohawk Trails Elementary parent, John Sherrill has stated this about the afterschool opportunities for his children, “We have had our children in the ESE afterschool programs for over five years now, and the effectiveness, value and enjoyment can’t be emphasized enough. The staff have continuously spearheaded fun and educational programs for the children, and these are often some of the highlights of their weekdays.” Former ESE participant Rachel Kasper had this to say about the after school program, “With two full-time working parents, ESE gave me a social outlet after school and time to get homework done. My parents always appreciated that they didn’t have to do an extra full time job when they got home.”
Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation ESE is proud to serve the Carmel community and families with high quality before and after school options.