Governor Bill Haslam has named October 26th Lights On Afterschool Day in Tennessee to recognize the role afterschool programs play in giving children the opportunity to discover hidden talents as they grow academically and socially. The proclamation was requested by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, a Steering Committee member of the Tennessee Afterschool Network.
In his proclamation, the governor stated, “The citizens of the State of Tennessee stand firmly committed to quality afterschool programs and opportunities because they provide safe, challenging and engaging learning experiences that help children develop social, emotional, physical and academic skills.” He further noted that, “afterschool programs also support working families by ensuring their children are safe and productive after the regular school day ends.”
On October 26, children, parents and business and community leaders across Tennessee will come together to celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and programming. “There will be more than 100 events across Tennessee. We anticipate thousands of children and families participating, with attendance from legislators, mayors, commissioners, school board members, and local celebrities,” said Mary Graham, President of United Ways of Tennessee and Lead Staff for the Tennessee Afterschool Network.
“Lights on Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work of Tennessee’s afterschool programs,” said Graham. “It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs offer a range of supports for children and families. They truly advance the education, health and welfare of our children, and they make our communities stronger.”
“Tennessee doesn’t have enough afterschool programs, and too many youths are home alone. We must open more programs and make sure lawmakers invest more in afterschool,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. “More than 170,000 Tennessee students are responsible for taking care of themselves after school, and nearly 264,000 students would participate if programming were available. The Tennessee Afterschool Network is committed to ensuring that in the near future, every child in our state who needs an afterschool program has one.”