KHA Celebrates “Lights On Afterschool”

On October 24th, the Kids Hope Alliance (KHA) co-hosted two local rallies celebrating the anniversary of Lights on Afterschool, joining an estimated 1 million rallying nationwide for the investment in quality afterschool programs.

At Sandalwood High School, approximately 60 young men and women from Teen Leaders of America, a KHA-funded afterschool program, shared with the community the positive impact the program has made on their lives. The step and dance teams also performed in the auditorium, followed by a spoken word about mental health challenges facing teens today. Sandalwood principal Dr. Saryn Hatcher addressed the audience, and Rose Conry, Board Member of the Kids Hope Alliance, delivered a proclamation on behalf of Governor DeSantis thanking students and staff for supporting high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

Communities in Schools of Jacksonville co-hosted a rally with The Kids Hope Alliance at Andrew Robinson Middle School. Program director Natalie Sheppard welcomed the audience, followed by a special address to parents from Andrew Robinson principal Latrese Fann. The cheer squad and dance team performed, as well as the Robotics Team. Dr. Charles Moreland, Director of Community and International Affairs for the City of Jacksonville, read the Governor’s proclamation. Students recieved KHA gift bags to take home, along with free books.

Several other KHA-funded programs hosted independent events for Lights on Afterschool, including the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation and JaxPAL.

A recent report from the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids – which is part of the Council for a Strong America — spotlighted data documenting positive outcomes for children and teens who participate in high quality afterschool programs. The report, released in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool, showed that the hours immediately following school remain the “prime time for juvenile crime.” The group analyzed FBI crime data from 36 states and found that the majority suffered spikes in crime from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. The report went on to describe afterschool programs as one of the nation’s best crime prevention strategies, an effective way to guide young people toward success in school and readiness for productive careers. Increasing children’s access to quality afterschool programming is critical not only for their academic success and well-being but also for the safety of the community.