Advocates Rally for Afterschool Programs at Pennsylvania State Capitol

More than 250 Students, Advocates Visit State Capitol to Support Afterschool ProgramsSubmitted Image

HARRISBURG, PA — Students, educators, program professionals, community leaders, and legislators gathered at the Pennsylvania State Capitol on June 5, 2024, for the Afterschool Advocacy Day. The event highlighted the importance of afterschool programs and rallied support for Governor Shapiro’s proposed $11.5 million budget for the Building Opportunity Through Out-of-School Time (BOOST) legislation. This budget would provide the first dedicated state funding for quality afterschool programs.

Several speakers expressed their strong support for the BOOST initiative. Contrell Armor, director of the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN), emphasized the vital role of out-of-school time (OST) programs. “At PSAYDN, we recognize the immense potential that resides within our students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. These young minds, when nurtured in the right environment, can flourish beyond the boundaries of traditional classroom settings. OST programs are that environment—spaces of innovation, creativity, and growth,” said Armor. He stressed that advocating for OST programs means advocating for a brighter, more equitable future, ensuring every child has access to necessary resources.

Students also shared their personal experiences with afterschool programs. Jay’Len, a student from Belmont Charter High School and IGNITE Afterschool Program in Philadelphia, spoke about the positive impact of afterschool activities. “Afterschool is a very welcoming place… it showed me how to be a better leader and that people can make great things happen together,” he said.

Dayasia, from Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg and Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg 2024 Youth of the Year, shared her transformative experience. “Through the afterschool program, I got to meet kids from all different backgrounds, and it built a sense of awareness within my community. I got to volunteer at different services,” she said, highlighting the program’s role in fostering community engagement and personal growth.

The Afterschool Advocacy Day was organized by PSAYDN in partnership with several organizations, including the Pennsylvania School-Age Child Care Alliance (PENN SACCA), Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative, Pennsylvania Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs, Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST), and Sunrise of Philadelphia, Inc.

Empowering Pennsylvania’s Youth: Afterschool Programs for a Brighter Tomorrow

Afterschool programs provide crucial support for students beyond the traditional classroom setting. They offer safe, structured environments where students can engage in enriching activities, receive academic help, and develop important life skills. These programs are especially beneficial for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, offering them opportunities they might not otherwise have.

Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget aims to provide the necessary funding to expand these programs, making them accessible to more students across the state. This investment in afterschool programs can lead to better educational outcomes, higher graduation rates, and improved social skills. Additionally, these programs help working parents by providing a safe place for their children during afterschool hours.

The potential implications of this funding are significant. By investing in afterschool programs, Pennsylvania can nurture future leaders, reduce juvenile delinquency, and enhance overall community well-being. The BOOST legislation represents a commitment to supporting holistic education and ensuring that every child, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed.

In summary, the Afterschool Advocacy Day at the Pennsylvania State Capitol showcased the vital role of afterschool programs in the lives of students and communities. With Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget, Pennsylvania is poised to make a substantial investment in its youth, paving the way for a brighter and more equitable future.

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