For the past 19 Octobers, the national group Afterschool Alliance has highlighted to the important role after-school programs play across the United States via Lights On Afterschool, a community celebration of the programs and the value they bring to our communities.
Civic Nebraska runs four after-school programs — we call them Community Learning Centers, or CLCs — in Lincoln and Omaha. We do this for the obvious reasons: CLCs provide a safe place for kids; they instill a continued love of learning; they provide an important resource for working families; they open up new worlds to children. We also do this because we know that a modern, robust democracy relies upon an educated, informed, critically thinking society — something our CLC staff works to build every day.
So we’ve been having some fun this month. On Oct. 6, we joined Collective for Youth in Omaha to celebrate Lights On Afterschool at the University of Nebraska Omaha. The event featured hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities, dances, games, and information about out-of-school-time programs available in Omaha. More than 1,000 people joined in.
In Lincoln, Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln will host an open house from 6:30 to 8:30 pm Oct. 25 at the Belmont Recreation Center. The event will include an opening program featuring high school emcees, the reading of a Lights On Afterschool proclamation, and an awards ceremony. Booths from each of Lincoln CLCs will highlight their programs on the theme “Family in Community.” Examples include an electric trailer, our famous Think, Make, Create mobile makerspace, and programs on nutrition, racing, engineering, health, and wellness. Free dinner will be provided.
In recognition of the upcoming event, local students got the opportunity to present their after-school experiences during a regular meeting of the Lincoln Board of Education on Oct. 23. The presenters included Keziah McIntosh, a fifth-grader at Campbell Elementary School, whose CLC Civic Nebraska runs.
Here’s what Keziah said:
“My name is Keziah McIntosh. I am a fifth-grade scholar and student council member from Campbell Elementary School.
“Last year was our first year as a Community Learning Center in partnership with the agency Civic Nebraska. Now being a CLC school, students like me can participate in clubs. I’ve participated in lots of clubs, including Girls On the Run, Smart Girls, International Cooking Club, and Cheerleading Club. I liked those clubs because they let me experience lots of fun things and let me be active and stay positive. Some of the clubs even let me use all five of my senses.
“Having programming before and after school allows me to be very active, and I have lots of freedom. I also like that I have teachers who care about me like Ms. Emily, Mr. Zach, and Ms. Khila. I have good relationships with them.
“I think that my friends and I have better behavior than two years ago. Also, I have friends at CLC, like Macie. She became my very best friend at CLC and out of CLC. Kyla is my friend at CLC, too. She is very nice and has lots of empathy when I’m hanging out with her! Also, Hailey and I have a very good relationship because we both serve on student council after school on Tuesdays.
“I enjoy my extra time before and after school at CLC and am glad kids at Campbell get the chance to do fun things outside of the school day.”
We couldn’t have said it better, Keziah. Thanks to you, all of our students, and to every one of our CLC staff in Omaha and Lincoln for their amazing work to build the next generation of young civic leaders for our state.