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Governor proclaims Thursday as Lights On Afterschool Day

Staff Reports • Updated Oct 20, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Gov. Bill Haslam named Thursday as Lights On Afterschool Day in Tennessee to recognize the role of afterschool programs in enhancing learning and providing opportunities for children to develop interpersonal skills and relationships. 

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, a steering committee member of the Tennessee Afterschool Network, requested the proclamation.

In his proclamation, the governor said, “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.”  

Haslam also said, “these expanded learning opportunities help close the achievement gap and prepare young people to compete in the global economy.”

On Thursday, children, parents and business and community leaders across Tennessee will come together to celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and programming.  There will be events in other states as well, as Lights On is a national event organized by the Afterschool Alliance. More than 1 million people will rally at more than 8,000 events across the nation. Afterschool programs will hold open houses, student art and stem projects, athletic activities, performances, festivals and beyond.  

“Lights On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work of Tennessee’s afterschool programs,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. “It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs offer a range of supports for children and families. Research shows students participating in high-quality afterschool programs have better school attendance, grades and standardized test performance compared to students who do not participate.  They also have less misconduct and lower rates of drug and alcohol use.”

“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 Mary Graham, president of United Ways of Tennessee and lead staff for the Tennessee Afterschool Network.  “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.” 

More information about afterschool programs in Tennessee can be found at tnafterschool.org, and to find a Lights On event, visit afterschoolalliance.org/loafindevent.cfm.

The Tennessee Afterschool Network brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to advocate for and support afterschool programs, especially those that provide services to at-risk children and youth. The network is made possible through a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, United Ways of Tennessee, and the United Ways of Greater Chattanooga, Greater Kingsport, Greater Knoxville, Mid-South, Ocoee Region, Rutherford and Cannon counties, West Tennessee and Williamson County. 

Lights On Afterschool is organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization that works to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs.

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