Lynnwood, WA – From Everett to Vancouver to Spokane, the people and programs that keep kids safe and learning in the hours after school are celebrating "Lights On Afterschool" day today (Thurs.) Despite budget challenges, one new focus of some programs is introducing kids to STEM skills: science, technology, engineering and math. Comments from Vicky Raya (RAY-uh), diversity program manager for Edlab Group and a national Afterschool Ambassador. Images available: Photos of girls participating in science camp events.
Intro: Today (Thursday) in 30 towns and cities around Washington, people are celebrating "Lights On Afterschool." It's an annual event to call attention to the need for high-quality programs and activities for kids outside the traditional school day. The Edlab Group is a nonprofit based in Lynnwood that makes grants in 36 states, to programs that focus on technology and science for girls through its National Girls Collaborative Project. Vicky Raya with Edlab says women still are under-represented in science careers – and the hours after school are a great time to get them interested.
|Cut 115098 :17 "In these after-school programs, there’s more freedom to bring in inspiring, hands-on materials that really elicit engagement and relevancy of these subjects for students – which is really what creates those critical thinkers that we need, for the research of the future."|
Tag: Raya says other countries are turning out a lot more scientists than the United States, and that research shows kids are more likely to become interested in science or technology when they experience it hands-on, more as a hobby than a school requirement. (Find a "Lights On Afterschool" event online at 'afterschoolalliance.org.')
Second Cut: Nationally, the Afterschool Alliance says 62 percent of after-school programs report their funding is down from three years ago. Raya is also a national Afterschool Ambassador, who speaks to civic and school groups and lawmakers about the importance of keeping these programs strong.
|Cut 125098 :13 "They’re vital to students, they’re vital to working families. They help students get inspired in learning and they keep them safe, as well as helping families who are working and need a place to have their children stay engaged in the learning process."|
Tag 2: A national survey says more than 15 million kids are home alone after school, and that their parents would consider enrolling them in after-school activities if they were available in their area.