Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Congress Should Keep the Lights on after School

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Congress Should Keep the Lights on after School

Article excerpt

If you were to walk by a school in the afternoon as the bell rang, it would be natural to think that the learning day is done. School buses are filling up and pulling away. Students are walking toward home with their friends. For a brief moment their thoughts have turned away from the book they're reading or the math homework they have.

But we know that learning is never truly over and that the hours after school provide opportunity for kids to learn and grow through enrichment. Unfortunately, those hours also provide opportunity for kids to engage in crime, substance abuse and other risky behavior. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, violent crimes by juveniles occur most frequently during the hours right after school. In fact, the rate of violent crime by juveniles is five times greater during this time period.

High-quality after-school programs are an important part of education and youth development. They get kids excited about learning, aid them in developing critical skills and help them stay on track for a bright and successful future. Studies show that kids in after-school programs have better school attendance, get better grades and are more likely to graduate.

Here in the 24:1, the 24 communities that make up the Normandy Schools Collaborative, we know the importance of after-school programs. The 21st Century after-school program, a partnership between Better Family Life and the Normandy Schools Collaborative, offers a variety of opportunities to kids in first through sixth grades. Students can develop culinary skills and foster healthy habits in cooking, fitness and nutrition classes. They can explore their creative side in speech and writing, art, dancing and music classes. These offerings inspire students' interest in growing fields like STEM and help build skills like teamwork, communications and critical thinking. These are skills they'll use every day and that will help them to do better at school, and one day, to land their first job.

These opportunities are complemented by community after-school programs such as those by Girls Inc. …

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