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Lights on after school


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This time of year, it's always a joy to watch small children and young people on their way to school each morning. But where do they go when the school day ends?

Nationally, more than 28 million school-age children have either their only parent or both parents working outside the home. As many as 15 million children are left unsupervised during nonschool hours. The HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools have joined communities across the nation in creating an after-school program to provide students with a safe place to enjoy creative learning opportunities designed to help them improve their grades, explore new interests and build self-esteem. The Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is a high quality, affordable after-school program now serving 430 area youth.

The club is designed to support parents in the extraordinary task of guiding our children to a strong start in life. The benefits of afterschool programs are clear:

They offer young people safe, enriching, fun activities, and provide children with engaging places to spend the afternoon hours when schools would otherwise be closed. Research shows that afterschool programs are a good investment. They improve academic achievement, keep kids safe, help working families, and teach children social skills and conflict resolution. After-school programs also lead to increased school attendance and lower dropout rates.

To celebrate the impact after-school programs have on the lives of our nation's children, more than 2,000 events are planned for Thursday as part of a national effort organized by the Afterschool Alliance and JCPenney Afterschool and chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, called "Lights On After School!"

At the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, located in the former Devlin School, we will be celebrating by opening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for a Family Fun Night. Havre families, whether they are members or not, are encouraged to come by and see the club and participate in club activities.

Please join us and millions of children, parents, educators, policymakers and business leaders across the country in celebrating "Lights On After School!" on Thursday, and in supporting after-school programs. Everyone can help brighten our children's lives during the after-school hours. There are opportunities for individuals to volunteer, to share hobbies or expertise. There are opportunities for businesses to contribute products and employees to volunteer time at these programs.

And, there are ample opportunities for our elected officials, from the national to the state and local levels, to authorize funding for additional programs.

Let's all join together on Thursday and every day thereafter to ensure that Havre's children have safe and enriching activities waiting for them at the end of the school day.

To get involved, visit the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, or call 265-6206.


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