Lights on Afterschool at Brown v. Board calls attention to need for more afterschool programs

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site News Release 

Contact: Angela Estep
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and
Williams Science and Fine Arts Elementary Celebrate Lights On Afterschool

Topeka, KS – This October, more than one million Americans will celebrate Lights On Afterschool across the United States. As a partner of the Afterschool Alliance and University of Kansas – Kansas Enrichment Network, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will provide activities for Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet students who participate in the afterschool program Families Empowered by Additional Teaching of Students (F.E.A.T.S.). This event will take place at the national historic site on October 23, 2013 and will continue the mission to increase academic outcomes for children through exercise, healthy snacks, experiential learning activities and additional tutoring in math and reading.

During this 14th annual Lights on Afterschool campaign, as many as 9000 similar events are being organized around the country to support afterschool programming. The public is invited to join administrators from Topeka Public Schools to honor and celebrate F.E.A.T.S. afterschool programming during a reception at 3:45 p.m. Activities for students will immediately follow and include “Drums Alive” and “Human Geometry” from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

Students will participate in a fun and innovative group exercise experience facilitated by Chris Omni, CEO of Wellness Information Network through choreography to music and movement. Teachers from Williams Elementary will facilitate students in a group exercise to learn geometry through physical movement. 

“We are delighted to join these activities, which are sending a powerful message about the urgent need for more afterschool programs,” said Martin Gies, principal of Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet Elementary and Afterschool Director. At Williams Magnet School, 115 students receive afterschool supervision and experiential educational activities. Unfortunately 88 students are on a waiting list with little hope of participating in the afterschool program this year. “We’ve arrived at a critical juncture,” Gies stated. The unmet need for afterschool programs is enormous, and funding is tight. Too many afterschool programs have been forced to cut back hours or services, or close entirely, because of inadequate budgets at the federal, state and local levels. With Lights On Afterschool, Americans are saying they want the lights on afterschool for our kids.” Still, funding has not kept up with demand, and more than 15 million children are alone and unsupervised after the school days ends.

Joyce Martin, CEO of the YWCA Topeka, F.E.A.T.S. program partner, is impressed with the gains students have made in the past two years. “We are pleased to have YWCA teachers partner with Williams School certified teacher providing afterschool tutoring, healthy physical activities and social growth opportunities,” she noted. “Overall, students have moved the needle in academic achievement and parents and children are very satisfied with the program.”

The F.E.A.T.S. afterschool program is a partnership between Williams Magnet School and the YWCA and is made possible by a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant. Daily, students receive tutoring session in math and reading. Fridays are special days for F.E.A.T.S. students. Each student participates in a variety of groups that include programs at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Other club day partners include Martial and Meditative Arts, Mulvane Art Museum, Boys and Girls Empowerment Groups, Topeka Public Library, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene and creative reader’s theater, art and science projects hosted by Williams Magnet School certified teachers.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed federal holidays except for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For more information call 785-354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps.

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