BY AMANDA MOSES
On October 24th, schools across the country celebrated Lights On Afterschool, an initiative that rallies together thousands of parents, students, and teachers to spread awareness about the importance of afterschool programming for communities. Launched in 2000 by the Afterschool Alliance, this celebration honors the thousands of afterschool programs that are dedicated to providing safe and affordable access to educational activities for children. The Afterschool Alliance reports that these programs spark interests in students and encourages them to learn more, get better grades, and improves the children’s classroom behavior.
The Spring Creek Afterschool Program hosted their celebratory event from 4pm to 5pm at PS 346 with volunteers from middle schools Frederick Douglass Academy VIII and Gateway Intermediate School 364. They began their festivities in PS 346’s auditorium, where parents were able to hear the students recite their chant: “Yo Spring Creek, Yo Spring Creek, Yo!Spring Creek Kids are here to stay. We came to learn, we came to play. We strive to be the best we can.” Families laughed and applauded the children’s enthusiastic chant, and prepared to spend an evening participating in various activities.
Kindergartners gathered in a room with several long tables, so that they could paint “Paleta de Hielo,” which means popsicles in Spanish. The four and five year olds have been learning Spanish phrases, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month. As the students painted, they donned hats that were constructed earlier in the week with paper and crayons in the shape of light bulbs. Parents helped explain how to mix the colors so that they form the colors: blue, green, purple, pink and other shades for the popsicles.
The first graders met inside of their classroom where they created stress balloon balls with their parents. The children were given a balloon, a funnel, and rice to insert inside. Mr. Watson’s first grade class excitedly shook the rice inside of the funnel and watched the balls slowly fill up. “I think this project is very interesting and educational, and will be something my daughters can do together at home,” said Aisha Ricks, the parent of first grader, Taylor.
Another group of students watched a video about healthy eating, and then they gathered together to make their own salads. Spring Creek Afterschool Program parent, Takiyah Walden was impressed with this lesson because it introduces the children to a healthier way of eating and teaches them to be conscious of the types of food they consume. Her children have been a part of the Spring Creek Afterschool Program for years, so she looks forward to participating in the Lights On Afterschool event. “I like that parents are able to engage with their children and see how the children function in a learning environment,” she said happily.
Many of the older students played “Capture the Cone,” which is a carefully constructed game that involves students listening to commands, such as their specific number being called out. The student who reaches a cone first, which is set in the middle of the playground, then has to retrieve it back to his or her team without being tagged by the opponent. This friendly com-petition had the fourth and fifth graders leaning on their toes in anticipation of their numbers being called.
Overall, the parents and children enjoyed their time learning and trying out new activities together. Spring Creek Afterschool Director, Jeremy Williams was extremely pleased with the event’s turnout. “It was so rewarding to see many of our parents come out and take part in the festivities. The atmosphere was so warm and exciting. It was truly filled with much joy to see our parents get a glance at what happens in our afterschool,” Williams said.
He was also very grateful for the hard work his staff committed to ensuring the event’s success. “Lights On continues to bridge the gap for families to key stakeholders in why afterschool programs are important to be funded,” Williams said.
Photos by Amanda Moses