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October 11, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich announces Lights on Afterschool events to highlight afterschool programs for youth
Communities across the state hold special events to recognize and promote the benefits of afterschool programs

CHICAGO - In support of afterschool programs, Governor. Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed October 12, 2006, Lights on Afterschool Day in Illinois.  On this day, communities all across the state will celebrate Lights on Afterschool, a nationwide event organized each year to recognize afterschool programs and promote their benefits.  In Illinois, the Illinois Public Health Association joins the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in celebrating Lights on Afterschool.

“Kids are most likely to get in trouble between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. – after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.  Afterschool programs keep young people off the streets and engaged in productive activities.  Not only do afterschool programs give kids a chance to keep learning, they also give parents peace of mind, knowing their children are in a safe place,” said Gov. Blagojevich. 

In Illinois, nearly 65 percent of parents with school-age children work outside their home; and more than 14 million students in the United States have no place to go after school.  Research shows that how children occupy their time during non-school hours is directly related to their ability to achieve in school and contribute to society. 

IDHS provides $20.5 million in grants for Teen REACH after school programs for Illinois youth.  Established by IDHS in 1998, Teen REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring and Hope) offers positive services and activities for youth between the ages of 6 and 17 during non-school hours.  More than 120 community-based organizations throughout the state receive the funding for fiscal year 2007.

“Afterschool programs such as Teen REACH help strengthen our communities,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.  “We hope that communities and parents will join in Lights on Afterschool events to highlight the importance of afterschool programming for our youth.”

More than 50 events throughout Illinois are scheduled on and around October 12 to raise awareness during Lights on Afterschool. These events can be creative and may include an open house, fun fair, theme party, arts and crafts, dance performances, fashion show, youth rally, family night, poster contests or other fun-filled activities to celebrate youth and afterschool programs.  Elected officials and civic leaders will be present at some sites to present Mayoral proclamations in support of Lights on Afterschool.

“Quality afterschool programming is essential to building safe and healthy communities.  The annual Lights on Afterschool events are an excellent opportunity to develop public awareness, educate state and local leaders and celebrate the success of afterschool programs in Illinois,” James R. Nelson, Executive Director, Illinois Public Health Association

Additional information on Lights on Afterschool events can be found at www.afterschoolalliance.org.   For a complete list of the Lights on Afterschool events across Illinois please visit the Illinois Public Health Association’s website at www.ipha.com.
Afterschool program facts at a glance:

• In 2004-2005, 483 public school districts operated 680 before- and afterschool same here programs, which served more than 250,800 students statewide. Sixty-four percent – or 434 programs – were after-school only. 

• More than 137,000 students were enrolled in a City of Chicago District 299 after-school program in 2004-2005.

• Homework help, tutoring, recreation, supervised play, literacy education, athletic activities, mentoring, technology and arts and crafts were common activities offered.



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