Keeping kids safe and in good learning environments when school is not in session was the focus of a recent gathering of community leaders and policy makers.
The Lights On After School Alliance is a nationwide organization working to ensure that all children have access to affordable, quality after school programs.
A local committee — Georgetown County Out of School Time — has formed and is part of the Lights On Alliance, according to Gaye Anne Tanner, executive director of the Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Clubs.
Tanner said the purpose of the Lights On Alliance is to make sure the after school programs in Georgetown County — and elsewhere — continue to operate.
She said the recent gathering of community leaders was a way to draw attention to the programs which are supported through contributions as well as by grants from the Waccamaw Community Foundation and the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation.
“The different groups in Georgetown County support each other,” Tanner said.
She said it is important to give young people a place to go after school, especially if they would otherwise go to an empty home because of working parents. Most crimes involving juveniles takes place between 3 and 10 p.m., Tanner said.
After school programs, she said, can help reduce those numbers.
She also said early learning programs help children prepare themselves to begin school.
Brian Tucker, president of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce, was at the recent conference. He said “children are our foundation” and if we “produce quality kids to contribute to society, it will have a huge economic impact.”
Tucker said because it was the first Lights On Alliance gathering in Georgetown, the various organizations who are involved are still trying to determine their roles in the organization.
He said the Chamber will be trying to help employees of its members to understand the importance of after school programs.
“It makes workers more efficient and focussed if they are secure with where their kids are,” Tucker said.
Tanner also noted an online petition showing support for the programs can be signed by signing on to www.afterschoolalliance.com.
During the meeting, Mayor Jack Scoville proclaimed Oct. 18 “Lights On After School” day in Georgetown.
By Scott Harper
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