By: Erin Albanese – School News Network
The lights were on at the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center and Spiderman and Batman were in the building.
The district’s after-school program, TEAM 21, recently welcomed families and students for a night of games, superhero-mask decorating and Halloween cookie munching during “Lights On After-School.”
About 7,500 after-school programs participated in the annual nationwide event. It was started in 2000 by the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization Afterschool Alliance, which promotes keeping the doors open after school to offer academic help and recreation for students.
Godfrey-Lee TEAM 21 coordinators put their own twist on the evening, inviting families by “Calling All Superheroes” to the event. Sixth-graders led games in the hallways for youngsters, some dressed in costumes. Families ate dinner provided by the school and took photos with their favorite caped crusaders.
“The whole point of the event is to showcase that we are here to help with the kids,” said Brittani Stickler, TEAM 21 site coordinator for the Godfrey-Lee ECC.
While the evening was focused on fun, TEAM 21 offers homework help and enrichment activities after school Monday through Thursday, plus summer programming. “We target at-risk kids and those who need the most academic help,” Stickler said. “It’s been a super help for parents.”
Team 21 is run through a partnership between the City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department and Godfrey-Lee, Wyoming, Godwin Heights and Kelloggsville Public Schools, with 15 schools offering programs for students ranging from kindergarten to ninth grade.
Godfrey-Lee is a high-poverty district with a large percentage of English-language learners. Many parents work in the evening and aren’t able to provide homework help, district officials said.
Ramona Maleka Freeman came to the event with her five children, two of whom regularly attend TEAM 21. “I like the way they help out with homework and spend a lot of time loving and caring for the kids. I like that it’s a positive program and the kids aren’t out learning negative things.”
Sixth-grader Jasmin Landero spread orange frosting on a cookie. “TEAM 21, to me, is not just a school thing. We get school stuff done, but we really have fun.”
Need for After-school Programs by the Numbers
• 19.4 million kids would participate in an after-school program if one were available to them.
• 11.3 million kids are on their own in the hours after school.
• 23 million parents of school-age children work outside of the home full time.
• An analysis of 68 after-school studies found that students participating in high-quality after-school programs went to school more, behaved better, received better grades and performed better on tests compared to non-participants.
• A study of outcomes associated with participation in after-school programs found that students who regularly participate during elementary school showed a variety of gains, including narrowing the math achievement gap at grade five between high-income and low-income students; improving work habits and self-efficiency; and reducing absences.
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