Did you know that one million students who are in elementary school are home alone during afterschool hours because they don’t have access to afterschool programs? A lot of people don’t. That’s why over a dozen buildOn Philadadelphia members from Bodine High School for International Affairs participated in Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide celebration of afterschool programs, yesterday afternoon across from City Hall.
The rally was put on by Afterschool Alliance to showcase the great things students are learning during the time they’re out of school to the community, politicians and the media. There were performances put on by dancers, singing troops and other student groups. Students representing various organizations set up booths to showcase the great things being accomplished in Philadelphia’s many afterschool programs, and how the programs are safe havens for children.
Naje Childs, a buildOn leader and senior, was one of four student speakers at the event. Her presence energized the hundreds of supporters as she spoke about her favorite service project with buildOn, how she likes helping people, and how she built a buildOn school in Malawi, which changed her outlook on life. “buildOn helps me stay focused on my education.” she said. “It grants me opportunities that will allow me to get ahead and distinguish myself in this competitive society.”
Other buildOn members ran a booth about buildOn. Students dedicated an entire buildOn meeting preparing for this event. Joanna Branch, buildOn’s Pennsylvania Regional Manager, wrote the facts about the importance of afterschool programs (gathered by Afterschool Alliance) on pieces of paper that were put around the classroom and students responded to questions that were on the board.
When someone at the event said, “You would think that students who stay afterschool would get in more trouble, because they’re getting home later than everyone else,” buildOn’s Rochelle Rivera, a sophomore, responded with, “Actually, youth crime is worst between 3 and 6 p.m., when youth are unoccupied and adults aren’t around.” The reflection deepened the students understanding of the importance of afterschool programs and how being involved in buildOn would help them in their own lives.
Learn more about the impact of buildOn’s afterschool programs here.