This is National Lights On After School Day
The Peter Paul Development Center on Church Hill is taking part in what is known at National Lights On After School Day.
This is the 11th year that the After School Alliance has called on member organizations to draw attention to the value of funding after-school programs.
Washington: There's about 15.1 million young people who are alone and unsupervised after school.
The Reverend Lynne Washington heads The Peter Paul Development Center.
Washington: Today is the day that we talk about lights on for after school. This is the time period where young people are at the greatest risk; this is the time period in which crime, violence, unwanted teen pregnancies, a gamut of things that plague the lives of middle schoolers and high schoolers tend to happen. It's those hours between three and seven p.m.
It’s impossible, she said, to over-stress how important after-school enrichment programs are for young people, especially in the inner city.
Washington: We have a very unique model. The majority of your after-school programs focus around recreation, as well as the arts, exposure-oriented, but for our after-school time, we are concentrating primarily on academics coupled with those other areas.
The Peter Paul Center will take note of Lights on After School Day.
Washington: We will be having an open house. Teachers especially, educators, principals, we're asking them to come by between the hours of 4:30 and 6. We'll have math games and spelling bee games and we are designing a bus that we have and we'll be picking the winner of that design, snacks, we'll have what we call 'writing on the wall' and just to give parents and teachers and others some sense of the importance of after-school and what we do here.
The Center was founded in 1973 in the parish house of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which stands across the street from the building the Center opened in 2007 on North 22nd Street.
Washington: For us, for after-school, we dig a little bit deeper in terms of assessing a child's ability, where that child specifically needs help with, finding out how we can help that child, we recognize that all children do not learn the same way, and what we concentrate on is how that child learns and how to optimize learning for that child.
The Center has learned over the years, she said, how to best serve Richmond’s east end. They are neighborhood-intensive.
Washington: We have learned from testing that some kids are learning only up to four to six months a year; the average child should learn beyond ten months, and we are finding in our data that 86% of the kids we have that have come here who have previously tested as four to six months in their learning, we can say that they are ten months and beyond in learning and we take credit for that and we're excited, 'cause we see ourselves as partners.
Students range in age from eight to eighteen.
Washington: You see the greater number of children in elementary school that are part of after-school programs and as they get older, this tends to decrease, but the risk there is that that's the age group that really needs after-school because they are at such high risk.
The success of the programs there has drawn national attention.
Washington: The Mott foundation, about two years ago, picked Peter Paul to be one of ten organizations nationally to be interviewed about what it is that makes a strong after-school program. Peter Paul's been doing after-school for 31 years; we haven't always gotten it right, but we've got it right now, or we're close to perfecting it.
John Ogle, WCVE News