Connecticut Cities Celebrate “Light’s On Afterschool”
Thursday, October 24th marked the 20th year that the Afterschool Alliance has kept the “lights on” for afterschool programming across the nation. The intent of the event is to celebrate the role afterschool programs play in the lives of children and families. This year, over 10,000 events across the country were registered through the Afterschool Alliance. http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/afterschoolsnack/20th-Lights-On-Afterschool-1-million-people-10-000-events-1_10-25-2019.cfm
In Connecticut 50 events happened across the state. One example was the city of New Britain. Afterschool providers from across the city came together at one of the most notable parks in the city: Walnut Hill Park to celebrate in community. The event, spearheaded by the New Britain Parks and Recreation department, and co-organized by members of the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth and the Consolidated School District of New Britain, was a gathering of afterschool participants, families, youth development staff, and community stakeholders. At 5pm, the event began with introductions and the lighting of the outdoor band shell stage for the night. The Latanya Farrell Band engaged the crowd with top 40 music, allowing youth to get on stage to play drums, dance, or sing with her. Other entertainment included inflatable amusements, food, popcorn, and a showcase of community providers that were part of the event. While New Britain has celebrated Lights On Afterschool each year, in various ways, this is the first time that the lights were “kept on” for the larger afterschool community. The culmination of the event was the lighting of the Walnut Hill Park Bandshell to which there was a countdown and great applause and cheering from the kids.
In Wethersfield, the Keane on Kids program hosted a Lights On Afterschool Expo. The evening highlighted some of the activities and vendors children take part in daily including farm to table, STEM activities, gym games, and academic and community supports. Attendees were able to take part in demonstrations, hands-on activities (including making slime and catapults), giveaways, and a raffle. There was a buzz of excitement in the air as children were able to talk about what they do and families got to experience it firsthand.
While these are only two examples of celebrations from Connecticut, many other communities took part in the event. Looking forward to 2020 as planning starts to take shape, think about what landmarks you could “Light Up” to celebrate the 21st anniversary on October 22nd, 2020. While we may not have an Empire State Building, a Mt. Rushmore, or a Superdome, we could have the light spread across the state with multiple landmarks that are hallmarks of our state. Please share your ideas with us so we can help elevate the conversation and celebrate with you all.
Ken Anthony is the Director of Professional Development & Research right here at the Network