Afterschool programs across the country celebrated the 19th annual Lights On Afterschool, a national rally to underscore the importance of afterschool programs.
Linda Barton, director of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, said the impact of afterschool programs is multifaceted. They provide a safe space for kids while parents are still at work, they help reduce both delinquency and victimization, and they offer unique learning opportunities.
"It's also an opportunity for 15 hours of extra time that kids can spend inventing, becoming young entrepreneurs, also developing their critical thinking and teamwork skills," said Barton. "And all of the skill areas that businesses are really looking for."
Barton said kids in Wyoming's afterschool programs get to explore being inventors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. She said that makes afterschool programs an important part of preparing kids for a future of work in a changing economy.
"We feel that afterschool is a great opportunity to offer those expanded opportunities that are hard to implement during the school day."
In Wyoming, Barton said there are 15 different programs participating in Lights On Afterschool from Cheyenne to Dubois. Nationally organizers predicted over one million participants will attend more than 8,000 events.