Posted on July 2, 2018 by Guest Author
At a recent conference I attended, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams shared that afterschool programs provided him with a foundation that guided him throughout his successful life. Dr. Adams also shared that his brother, who unfortunately didn’t have the same afterschool opportunities, is in prison less than 50 miles away from Dr. Adam’s D.C. office.
Across our region and nation, there are various types of afterschool programs available to youth year-round. Dr. Adams story demonstrates some of the benefits of participating in afterschool programs, but there are many more including:
- Preventing youth from becoming victims and perpetrators of a violent crime
- Providing academic support to help school performance
- Supporting working families by providing a safe place for youth to learn and access to a trusted adult
- Promoting healthier youth by offering physical activities
- Exposing youth to career options and provides workforce skills
Afterschool Programs Support Academic Achievement
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 5 to 7.5 million youth miss nearly a month of school each year. Youth participating in high quality afterschool programs have higher rates of school attendance, better grades and higher test scores.
Long breaks in school can result in losing up to 2 months’ worth of education youth gained during the school year, called learning loss. By 5th grade, the learning loss that accumulates each summer since kindergarten can put youth 2.5 to 3 years behind their more advanced peers. Summer learning loss also accounts for at least 50 percent of the reading achievement gap among 9th graders. Afterschool programs help ensure youth don’t fall behind after long breaks. At summer’s end, it’s critical that youth continue to stay engaged in afterschool programs.
Safer and Healthier Youth
The Afterschool Alliance surveyed parents about their observations of how afterschool programs have benefited their kids. Parents agreed that afterschool programs provide a safe environment, help reduce the likelihood that their child will engage in risky behaviors such as committing a crime or use drugs or become a teen parent.
The risk that adolescents will be victims of violence is 60 percent greater in the four hours afterschool, than any other time. Since afterschool programs happen during this time, they serve as an important protective factor for our youth.
Afterschool Is Important To El Paso
As Surgeon General Adams explained, afterschool programs can be considered law enforcement prevention programs, diabetes prevention programs, leadership programs, military prep programs, educational enhancement programs, and so much more.
There are over 55,000 youth in El Paso County who could benefit from afterschool programs. In Fabens, I have seen the confidence a local art nonprofit instills in kids. In the Segundo Barrio, I have met a college student who currently works at the nonprofit that gave him the support he needed to further his education.
We are a community dedicated to promoting strong and capable youth. The Borderland Out of School Time (BOOST) Network was established to further positive after school and summer activities for youth in the region.
If you could like to become involved in the BOOST Network of out of school time providers, please visit www.theboostnetwork.org or call Elisa Morales at 915-533-2434 for more information.
Guest writer: Elisa Morales, Healthy Kids Director with United Way of El Paso County 915-533-2434 ext. 237 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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