This past month, ELO programs in Nebraska and across the nation celebrated Lights on Afterschool (LOA)—the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities.
While this celebration is a wonderful opportunity to bring students and their families together to celebrate their programs, it also is a chance to educate communities about the importance of ELO programs. LOA events allow ELO programs to draw attention to the many ways their programs support students by offering them opportunities to learn new things and discover new skills. The events send a powerful message to communities—including businesses, schools and policy makers—that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.
Here in Nebraska, Governor Heineman signed a proclamation declaring the week of October 20, 2014, as Lights on After School Week. Additionally, a number of mayors in Nebraska made similar proclamations for their communities. Throughout the month, numerous LOA events were held in ELO programs across the state, with various local media outlets reporting on local LOA events.
Here are just a few examples of the different ways that Nebraska communities celebrated Lights on After School:
Five separate Lights on After School events were held the week of October 6 — a different school-based program sites for each day of the week. The Kearney CLC partnered with Ken Schroeder, STEM provider, to provide programming for “Mad Science” family nights. Ken explained concepts related to molecules and electricity and led interactive presentations to coincide with these discussions. The families then rotated through various interactive STEM centers. Various school and community partners attended the events, as well as City Council members, Chamber of Commerce representative, previous chamber President and the Mayor.
Collective for Youth and their community partners hosted a city-wide Lights On Afterschool Celebration at the UNO Sapp Fieldhouse on Saturday, October 25. More than 1,000 people attended. The event kicked off with remarks from UNO’s Chancellor Christensen who did a great job reminding students to dreaming big and think about college. Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert followed with a proclamation announcing that Nebraska has become a Top 10 State for Afterschool. Collective for Youth also celebrated two local Afterschool Champions.
Students were able to explore hands-on exhibits by visiting 41 stations set up by community partners. Each of these stations offered hands on activities for the students. Some examples of the activities included DNA exploration, building a robot, talking about bee pollination, making flubber and creating hats. During the event, there was a talent showcase, a basketball tournament and resource fair for parents. Every child was fed a hot lunch. A number of community partners and volunteer from TD Ameritrade, United Way, UNO and Completely Kids helped with the event.
Coverage of Omaha’s event can be viewed here:
Cool Kids Club/No Limits afterschool programs held a number of events in October to celebrate Lights on After School. The first event was the LOA dinner, hosted by community leaders and program partners. The dinner was held for local businesses and potential partners, as a means to celebrate and learn more about afterschool and the work of the Cool Kids Club/No Limits Programs.
On October 7, Cool Kids Club/No Limits partnered with TE Connectivity (a local company), Sidney Public Schools and 4H to hold a free LOA chili dinner for students and their families at one of their program sites, North Elementary School. Along with the dinner, an interactive technology fair was held. TE Connectivity also helped purchase a technology/STEM-based “Fab Lab”—including computers, various building kits and robotics. These materials were showcased at the event. Other community partners and policymakers, including the local police chief, attended this event. Finally, on October 25, a Hay Day Festival was held at the Cheyenne County Fairgrounds. This celebratory festival was held for students and their families.
This was the first year for Lights on Afterschool in Fremont, as their 21st CCLC program just started last school year. Three LOA events were held at each of their elementary school sites. The Milliken Park event centered on a carnival theme, Washington highlighted various careers and the Linden Elementary event featured a STEM theme. Community partner HyVee donated food for the events. A number of school and city leaders attended the event, including the School Superintendent, Director of Student Services and the Director of Human Resources-City Council.
More than 250 children and families attended Lincoln’s Lights On Afterschool event on October 23 at Lefler Middle School. Twenty-one clubs from eighteen of the Lincoln CLCs brought interactive displays for participants to enjoy. Club booths represented a broad spectrum of opportunities that are available to students across the city—reading, the arts, science, civics, cooking, dance, service learning, filmmaking, speech, sports and more. Four CLC sites received trophies for their club booths and all of the booths received ribbons to honor their hard work and participation in the event. The Dawes Step-Team also performed to a delighted audience.
Eight school principals attended the event, as well as Lincoln Public Schools representatives John Neal and Bess Scott. Barb Bartle, Lincoln Community Foundation, was seen visiting the booths and enjoying the festivities. City Council member Leirion Gaylor Baird opened the evening by reading the mayor’s Lights On Afterschool proclamation, and energizing the participants with a rallying shout-out of the various CLCs represented in the crowd. Four sites received Innovation in Afterschool awards for their work: Arnold CLC for their work with the Youth Ambassador program and their strong School Neighborhood Advisory Committee; Elliott CLC for their immersion in the study and implementation of project-based learning; Huntington CLC for their creative partnership with Nebraska Global in offering Coding Academies for students after school; and Clinton/Hartley CLCs for their increased parent engagement and enhanced program offerings after school.
Kids Klub after school program held a Lights on After School celebration on October 23rd. A proclamation from the mayor’s office helped kick off the celebration. A number of different interactive activities were provided for students to participate in and students and families were given a free meal. See the KNOP story.
“Communities Together Can” after school program in Columbus, held their LOA event on October 23. They held one city-wide event at one of their program sites, Lost Creek Elementary School. They partnered with Nebraska Public Power District to provide STEM programming for the event—which included various interactive stations related to energy. Additional art activities and interactive games were included in the event. Dinner was provided to students and their families. See the full story.