BY JAMES HARPER
Dozens of Palm Terrace Elementary School students rallied recently to draw attention to the need for more after-school programs.
Palm Terrace is one of many schools nationwide that has an extended day enrichment program.
There are millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon, according to Kenneth Walker, who works at the school.
The student gathering at Palm Terrace on Oct. 17 was one of more than 9,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs.
This year marked the 14th annual “Lights On Afterschool” program sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance.
More than one million Americans took part in the nationwide rally to support after-school programs.
According to data released by the Afterschool Alliance, 20 percent of school-age children in 2009 were in after-school programs while 25 percent were unsupervised in the afternoon and another 16 percent were in the care of brothers and sisters.
More programs needed
A survey shows that the parents of 36 percent of the children in Florida, who are not already in an after-school program, would enroll their children if a program was available to them.
The conclusion of the survey indicated the unmet demand for after-school programs in the state.
Palm Terrace’s program currently has just over 50 students enrolled.
The program provides a snack, homework assistance, computer time and recreation.
The students also participate in community projects during the school year. Wylma Thompson is the program director for the program. Marvetta Brown is a group leader.