HARRISBURG, Pa.– Students and legislators from across the state shared their support and experiences with afterschool programs at the 2022 Afterschool Advocacy Day Rally, March 29, 2022, on the Pennsylvania state Capitol steps.
“We are here to lift up youth voices,” said Steven Williams, associate director of Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network. Steven shared that he participated in afterschool programs as a youth. “Afterschool is important, and the benefits reach far and wide.”
Students Lael Laing, Youth and Government Delegate at Friendship YMCA, Central Dauphin School District, and Moiz Nasir, Youth and Government Delegate at Hershey High School, Derry Township School District, served as emcees. Lael shared, “The benefits of afterschool programs last long past the age of attendance.”
Pennsylvania state Representative Austin Davis (D-Philadelphia) also shared that he participated in afterschool programs. “I want each and every young person to know you have advocates inside this [Capitol] building fighting for you… While we may occupy these seats today, you are going to occupy them tomorrow.”
Representative Michael Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) highlighted the power that afterschool programs have on young people’s lives. He shared that he is the primary sponsor of the BOOST Act, “a piece of legislation that would dedicate $50 million every year to fund afterschool programs.” As the student speakers said, “The demand far outstrips the opportunity that’s available.”
Representative Elizabeth Fiedler (D-Philadelphia) led rally participants in a chant, “We need afterschool.”
Student speakers included:
Christine Berry shared, “Regardless of what life was like at home, they [children] know that there is a safe sanctuary in afterschool for them… They [students and teachers] are finding ways to make this world a better place.”
In Pennsylvania, every $1 invested in afterschool programs saves $6.69 by decreasing high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, substance use and crime. Yet, for every youth enrolled in an afterschool program in Pennsylvania, four more are waiting to get in. Decades of research prove afterschool helps kids attend school more often, get better grades, and build foundational skills like communication, teamwork and problem solving.
Afterschool Advocacy Day is organized by the Pennsylvania State Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN), in partnership with Pennsylvania School-Age Child Care Alliance (PENN SACCA), the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative, Pennsylvania Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs.
Founded in 2004, Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) at Center for Schools and Communities is one of 50 statewide afterschool networks funded through the Mott Foundation and a host of other funders. Its mission is to promote sustainable, high quality out-of-school time (OST) youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to enhance the welfare of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families. With nearly 3,000 members, over 6,000 recognized OST providers, over 100 partners, and serving in all 67 counties, PSAYDN has grown the network by providing services and supports that influence and impact afterschool on national, statewide, and regional levels. For more information, please visit www.psaydn.org.
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