Clubs Celebrate Lights On Afterschool as Beacons of Light for Their Communities
On October 28, 2021, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore (BGCMB) celebrated Lights On Afterschool with community events at Clubhouses. Initiated in 2000, Lights On Afterschool is championed by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. Each year, more than 8,000 events and activities are orchestrated across the nation to celebrate and bring attention to the importance of afterschool programs to children, families and communities.
At our O’Donnell Heights Club, Club Manager William Howard explained, “Essentially, today’s event could be seen as an open house. We want members of this community to not only meet our staff and our partners, but also learn about our programs.”
From 6 - 8 p.m., residents of the O’Donnell Heights community flocked to the Club to participate in the festivities. The event unfolded in three phases with the Club’s teen members leading the way. First, a pep rally where Club staff and a board member got the opportunity to introduce/re-introduce themselves to those in attendance and give insight into Boys & Girls programming.
“It felt good to get back in the Club. The kids seemed to enjoy the activities. Getting a chance to be a part of this event, seeing the kids and their smiles, and thanking people like Will and the rest of the staff for everything they do is what it’s all about. It’s good for us board members to come and show our appreciation for them,” said BGCMB Board Member Brian Wentz.
After the pep rally, youth enjoyed arts and crafts. In keeping with the theme of “Lights On,” parents and youth created glow-in-the-dark slime, lava lamps, and neon rice. After arts and crafts, Club staff, youth, and parents headed outside for one last surprise: to release Chinese lanterns into the sky. Releasing the lanterns, which symbolize vitality and good luck, and watching them literally shine light around the community was a fitting tribute to close the event.
“I had a great time tonight. I look forward to this event every year. Mr. Will trusting the other teens and me to help run the event was an honor. I always try to be a leader, so knowing that someone else sees me the same way feels good. I guess you can say I’m a light for others,” said Club member Kesean.