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PHILADELPHIA — Today thousands of children at more than 80 Philadelphia Parks & Recreation sites across the city will take part in National Lights on Afterschool Day, an annual awareness day to celebrate the critical role afterschool programs play in keeping young people safe, well nourished, and engaged after the bell rings.
Mayor Jim Kenney joined community leaders, youth, and City officials at Winchester Playground to take part in the National Lights On Afterschool activities designed to draw attention to the critical role afterschool programs play in the lives of Philadelphia families. The event was one of hundreds being celebrated across the City and country today to emphasize the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open after school.
”Rec centers are a staple for so many young people,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I am proud to join the team at Winchester to celebrate the positive impact that safe, high quality afterschool programming has on children at school and at home.”
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s afterschool programs serve approximately 2,500 students each year. Students in afterschool programs receive a free meal, homework help, and exposure to a variety of recreational activities under the supervision of caring adults.
“From STEM to athletics, literacy and leadership, neighborhood afterschool programs offer a lot, and are an important part of young peoples’ education and development,” said Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa, Office of Children and Families. “Thank you to all the rec centers and out of school time providers who keep the lights on for our youth at afterschool programs across the city.”
Eighty Parks & Rec sites took part in the 2021 National Lights on Afterschool campaign, which includes creating personalized “Lights On” lightbulbs that will be sent to decorate City buildings all month.
“Parks & Rec offers safe, accessible, high-quality afterschool programs for young people in every neighborhood of the city,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Welcoming kids to the rec afterschool is a critical service to families. We are so grateful to the hardworking afterschool staff who make sure our centers are safe, warm and welcoming places to learn and grow.”
Since 2000, the Afterschool Alliance has celebrated National Lights on Afterschool Day, which acknowledges the critical role afterschool programs play in young people’s education and safety. During the pandemic, afterschool programs served students and families in new ways, through remote programs, outdoor activities, and offering access centers where children could complete their virtual school day.
“Since the return to in person school this fall, after school programs have been a source of safe socialization and extra study support to communities hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Winchester Playground’s Recreation Leader Jameele Mitchell. “Parks & Rec afterschool programs are a true community effort. From the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia to the Duckrey School community and Temple University’s outreach team, afterschool at Winchester has something for every young person. We are a safe place where youth come to have fun, make friends, and connect with caring adult role models.”
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. In 2017, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, set about implementing the park system’s first strategic plan: Our Path to 2020 and Beyond. As a result, PPR is undertaking a period of historic change, setting the department on a course to become a modern, equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system. Visit us at www.phila.gov/parksandrec, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Lights On Afterschool is organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs. More information on the Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool and America After 3PM is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.