You can’t prepare for the school year without thinking about after- school care for your children, especially if you’re a working parent. According to the Afterschool Alliance, more than 15 million school age kids are alone after school, with one million of those in grades K-5. For parents, particularly those living in underprivileged areas, it’s difficult to provide after school care for children. Unfortunately, the hours from 3-6pm are critical for kids, as they can be a prime time for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol and sex.
So what are working parents to do? How do they find safe, reliable and affordable options? The After-School All-Stars program hopes to help.
All-Star After-School History
After-School All-Stars is an organization that helps thousands of low-income, at-risk children in 42 cities. It’s mission is to provide comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and in life.
It all started in California when the Bush administration asked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to lead a health and fitness program for underprivileged children. However, after visiting many of the schools that had implemented this program, Schwarzenegger realized children needed something more, which eventually led to the creation of After-School All-Stars.
In 2000, Columbus, Ohio began the first branch of After-School All-Stars outside of California. Governor Kasich became so fond of the program that he arranged funding for expansion into Dayton, Cleveland, and Toledo.
In the Toledo area, After-School All-Stars has partnered with TPS schools Birmingham Elementary, Hawkins Elementary, and Walbridge Elementary. The partnership and ability to use the school facility allows After-School All-Stars to keep the program free.
Helping kids, supporting families
“The program not only helps the kids, but also helps support the families…it keeps the children safe, but also allows the caregivers or parents to work fulltime and not have to worry about their children,” said Renne O’Shaughnessy, the marketing manager for After-School All-Stars Ohio.
The program runs for three hours after school and is broken into three segments. Students typically spend the first hour working on academics. This could mean finishing up homework assignments, or even getting extra assistance from tutors. Many of the tutors are volunteers from local colleges, high schools, and even teachers from the school.
The second hour is focused around health and fitness. Physical fitness is encouraged through the incorporation of sports and dance. Health education is also taught during this hour and helps students learn to make healthy choices. Activities range from cooking and eating healthy recipes to even growing a garden that benefits the community. And, a daily warm meal is always provided for all students.
An hour for enrichment
During this time the focus is around encouraging students to discover the world around them. Guest speakers often come in to talk about different career options for students to consider. Additionally, the organization pays for field trips to allow students to venture out into the community. Community service, also a part of the enrichment, helps students clean the grounds of the school, or raise money for a specific organization.
“Our vision is not only to ensure that the students are healthy and fit, but also that they stay in school…go on to college, and give back to the community,” explained O’Shaughnessy. “We want people to understand that this is not a babysitting service. We want to enrich the kids…and show them what is out there.”
Time for school again
With the school year starting up again, After-School All-Stars is looking for volunteers who may be interested in helping with the program. Additionally, part-time staff positions and internships are also available which might be a perfect option for college students interested in education.
To learn more about After-School All-Stars, or to volunteer, visit toledoasas.org.