Some local groups will take part in a national effort on Thursday to raise awareness for the need for affordable, quality afterschool programs.
Lights on Afterschool is a program led by the Afterschool Alliance, a national group that works to ensure kids have access to programs. According to the group, 15.1 million kids, often teens, take care of themselves after school. About 8.4 million kids are in afterschool programs.
Afterschool programs can be critical, especially for teens, the group says.
On school days, the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex, its website says. Teens who are not in an afterschool programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They also are three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and they are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity.
I first learned about Lights on Afterschool from the Wade Edwards Learning Lab in Raleigh, which is open from 2:15 p.m. to 7 p.m., its normal hours, on Thursday. The learning lab offers programs, tutoring and more for Wake County high schoolers.
For information about other events to mark the day in North Carolina, go to the Afterschool Alliance's website.