By Tony E. Windsor

The Laurel Boys & Girls Club recently transformed into a full “fall” theme of festivities on two floors of the club building. On Thursday, Oct. 20, the Boys & Girls Club on Central Avenue hosted an after-school celebration for the community featuring a “Haunted Basement,” Halloween attraction on the lower level of the building, and a “Fall Festival” event held in the gymnasium on the ground floor.

Laurel Boys & Girls Club Program Director Brian Daisy, said the event attracted about 300 young people and adults, many of which are club members. He said there were games, crafts, refreshments and a D.J. provided music.

Laurel Mayor John Shwed was on hand during the special “lights On Afterschool” celebration at the Laurel Boys & Girls Club, Thursday, Oct. 20. Shwed presented a community Proclamation designating Thursday, Oct. 20 as “Lights On Afterschool Day” in Laurel. Photo courtesy of Delaware Afterschool Network

The Boys & Girls Club event coincided with national “Lights On After School,” an event created by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. Each year for 23 years, in October, the Afterschool Alliance has celebrated afterschool programs like those offered through Boys & Girls Clubs.

Launched in October 2000, Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities.

In recognition of Lights On Afterschool, and the community service work of the Laurel Boys & Girls Club, Mayor John Shwed attended the event and made a presentation on behalf of the town of Laurel.

During the Monday, Oct. 17 meeting of Laurel Mayor and Council, Shwed announced a proclamation honoring Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 as “Lights On Afterschool Day” in the town of Laurel. At the Thursday evening event, he presented the proclamation to the Boys & Girls Club and the Delaware Afterschool Network.

According to statistics researched by the Delaware Afterschool Network, the lack of federal, state and local funding, and families and communities working with tight budgets leaves 21,404 of Delaware’s school age children alone and unsupervised in the hours after school.

• 62,518 (47 percent) kids in Delaware would participate in an afterschool program if one were available to them

• 16, 237 kids in Delaware participate in afterschool programs

• 6,123 kids in Delaware attend 21st CCLC (Century Community Learning Centers) that serve children living in high poverty areas and attending low-performing schools, including those who attend 21st CCLC programs held at the Laurel and Seaford B&G Clubs.

In presenting the municipal proclamation, Shwed said, “The Laurel Boys & Girls Club inspires and enables all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Afterschool programs have risen in the moment to support youth in addressing their social and academic needs as we move beyond the pandemic, and such programs continue to provide innovative, hands on opportunities for young people to reengage with their learning and connect with caring adults and peers in a safe, supportive, environment.”

He also said that the town of Laurel, Boys and Girls Club of Delaware, the Delaware Afterschool Network, and the state of Delaware are all “committed to investing in the health and safety of our young people by providing expanded learning opportunities that will help prepare them for the future.”