After School Programs

By: Melissa Reynolds
By: Melissa Reynolds

It's Lights on Afterschool Day. The purpose is to make the community aware more programs are needed and spotlight what they've got.

"I get to do art, play gym," Katana Shifflett says.

"I get to play basketball and I can beat Steph and Kesh at basketball," Chavis Corbin says.

"You do art projects and they help you out with your homework," Dakai Williams says.

These kids are like 1,000 others in the area that are in after school programs. But, they're the lucky ones. For every child in a program, another child is on a waiting list.

"We are full with 70 children and I still have a waiting list-there are more after school programs in the Harrisonburg Rockingham area, but there are not enough to serve the needs of all the children," Yolanda Gallego says.

The kids actually get a lot out of the programs...including help with homework.

"After school programs can actually increase GPA levels for kids they can improve SOL scores for kids," Heather Denman says.

"They can learn lots of new activities, make new friends, work on their socialization skills," Gallego says.

"Today in the state of Virginia, the school day is very much about academics and there's not time for social opportunities for kids," Denman says.

That's where after school programs can help.

"I learned that we want to share and be kind to each other we want to make people's feelings feel better," Shifflett says.

"About drugs, about smart moves and how bad it's for you," Corbin says.

Still, thousands of area kids are missing out because most local programs are full...including 83-percent in Rockingham County...and all but one in Harrisonburg...mostly because there's not enough money.

"Really, it's the only barrier for us to be able to meet the needs of community youth, we have the capacity we have the programs that work, we have the support of the community we just lack the funding we need to be able to offer services to more kids," Denman says.


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