Event tomorrow to promote need for more after-school programs

Center in East Baltimore plans activity for officials

October 08, 2003|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

When the afternoon school bell rings tomorrow, many students across the state and nation won't be shoving books and pencils into backpacks and rushing out the door.

Instead, thousands of children and teen-agers will be participating in Lights On After- school!, a nationwide program designed to focus attention on what goes on in young people's lives after school lets out.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, a national advocacy group, there are 15 million kids across the nation who have nowhere constructive to go after school.

"Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. that's when kids can get into a lot of trouble," said Linda Bazerjian, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Education.

"And regardless of whether their folks work or not, that's when a lot of kids are unsupervised."

Tomorrow, the state education department will link up with community leaders and organizations, as well as national companies and groups such as the Afterschool Alliance, to celebrate existing programs in Maryland and call for funding for more such programs, Bazerjian said.

"The day is about shedding light on the importance of after-school activities, to show what's working, to look at the impact they have on achievement and socialization, and to get people to look at putting more resources into after-school programs," she said.

Schools, churches, recreation centers, Boys and Girls clubs, YMCAs and other organizations that offer after-school activities will be showcasing their programs tomorrow -- providing tours, for example, or student performances.

Beginning at 4 p.m., State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, along with City Council President Sheila Dixon, will be participating in one such presentation at The Door, a faith-based after-school program that serves East Baltimore inner-city youth.

The Door is at 219 N. Chester St. Refreshments will be served.

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