Honolulu – Hundreds of children, parents, business and community leaders came together today at a Lights On Afterschool rally at the State Capitol to celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon. The gathering was one of 8,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs. Speakers at the rally highlighted the work of students, afterschool providers, and various community organizations and businesses that are supporting afterschool programming in the area, and celebrated the many benefits of afterschool programs. As at other Lights On Afterschool rallies across the nation, Hawaiʻi afterschool supporters urged lawmakers not to deny or divert funding needed for afterschool programs.
Hawaiʻi Lights On Afterschool participants saw students give testimonies about how the afterschool programs made a positive impact in their life. The students also performed for the participants showing the skills learned during the afterschool hours while the Lt. Governor Shan S. Tsutsui, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, other representatives, parents and students discussed the importance of afterschool programs. This year marked the 14th annual Lights On Afterschool, sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance. More than a million Americans took part in the nationwide rally to support afterschool programs.
“I’d like thank everyone for participating in Lights on Afterschool and for reminding Hawaiʻi that afterschool programs are an important part of the lives of our keiki and should be made available for all school-aged children,” Lt. Governor Tsutsui told the crowd. “Because we recognize the importance of afterschool programs, I started an initiative called R.E.A.C.H., which is designed to provide academic enrichment, athletics, and arts and culture to our middle/intermediate school students during the afterschool hours throughout our state.”
“Lights On Afterschool celebrates the skills students learn at our afterschool programs,” Lt. Governor Shan S. Tsutsui told the crowd. “It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn, and relieve working parents of worries about how their children spend their afternoons. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough afterschool programs, and too many kids are unsupervised and exposed to crime or other risks each afternoon. We need to open more programs and protect the programs we have. I am personally committed to doing all I can to ensure that, in the very near future, every child in Hawaiʻi who needs an afterschool program has one.”
“We are all extremely proud of our afterschool students and the incredible work they’re doing,” said Paula Adams, Program Director, Kahoʻomiki. “Afterschool programs do an outstanding job of keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.” Paula Adams serves as an Afterschool Ambassador for Hawaiʻi for the Afterschool Alliance.
At this year’s Lights On events, communities are rallying behind afterschool, urging Members of Congress not to deny or divert funds intended for afterschool programs.
For the seventh year in a row, the Empire State Building is scheduled to be bathed in yellow light on the evening of October 17 in support of the nationwide Lights on Afterschool rally. In addition, for the second year in a row, Bright House Networks is sponsoring a Lights On Afterschool Photo Contest on Facebook. Afterschool programs can submit photos showing how they celebrated Lights On Afterschool and the vibrancy of afterschool programs in their communities, and people can vote for their favors.
A steady stream of afterschool evaluations reveals gains in academic achievement among children in these programs, as well as gains in safety, discipline, attendance and avoiding risky behaviors. In addition, researchers have found that afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement, an important building block for student success. More than 15 million school-age children – more than one in four kids in the United States – are unsupervised after the school day ends. The parents of 18 million children say they would enroll their kids in afterschool programs – if programs were available.