I think somewhere in the back of our minds we have a vague notion that after school programs are a good idea. Keep kids busy, keep them out of trouble. But what would happen if there weren’t any after school programs? What would it look like if we lived in a world where kids had no adult supervision or planned activities after school?
To understand this scenario, we need to visit the hood for a little bit. If you read this post, A Day in the Life of an At-Risk Youth, it will make more sense to you. In the ideal situation, when a child gets out of school, he or she comes home to a loving parent or relative who fixes them a nice snack, helps them with their homework, and asks them how their day went.
Unfortunately, in our neighborhood, 90% of our kids are from single-parent homes, which means that there may or may not be someone at home for them.
Of our families that have two parents, both parents are working multiple minimum wage jobs, trying to support their family members in America (and many in other countries as well).
There are four major problems kids face when they don’t have adult supervision after school.
1. Exposure to opportunities to join gangs, use drugs, and engage prematurely in sexual activity.
More than 500 youths have been killed in Chicago since 2008. Teens who attend after school programs are more than three times less likely to use drugs and alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and participate in sexual activity.
Kids are not getting the homework help they need with adults absent during the long stretch of time between when school gets out and when parents get home from work. Only 26% of students from our local elementary school meet state standards for math. In our after school program, 43% of our students maintain a B average in math.
3. Lack of teaching and mentoring on life topics such as healthy eating and relationships.
God gave us parents for a reason! But when they are stretched thin or not there at all, often crucial topics such as taking care of your body and how to treat others can often go overlooked. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. At Starfish we provide healthy snacks as well as nutritional teaching.
Without the proper inspiration and guidance, kids are likely to walk in the footsteps of their parents and instead of reaching hard to graduate college and prepare for a solid career, they will succumb to the influence of their peers and focus on the wrong things. Nearly 40% of Chicago Public School students drop out of high school, and that number is higher for kids in our neighborhood who are among the poorest in the city. At Starfish, our graduation rate is 100%.
The need for support for our youth can be overwhelming! Fortunately, as you can see in this post (5 ways we’re reaching this fatherless generation), programs like ours can really help a lot. If you are interested in partnering with us to help combat the problems inner city youth face today, you can either donate by clicking this link: PayPal.me/starfishchicago, or you can visit this page to learn about volunteer opportunities.