OCO’s Rural After School Program Asks To Keep The Lights On

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
FULTON, NY – Oswego County Opportunities’ Rural Afterschool Program invites community members to help raise awareness of RASP by joining communities nationwide and leaving their porch lights on to celebrate Lights On Afterschool on Oct. 20.

Launched in 2000, Lights On Afterschool is celebrated nationwide to call attention to the importance of after school programs for America’s children, families and communities. Nationwide 15.1 million children are alone and unsupervised after school. Afterschool Programs keep children safe, help working families, and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults.

 Andrew Trumble (left) and Shanin Comtois of APW Middle School, color light bulbs in preparation for Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide initiative aimed at raising the awareness of Afterschool Programs.
Andrew Trumble (left) and Shanin Comtois of APW Middle School, color light bulbs in preparation for Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide initiative aimed at raising the awareness of Afterschool Programs.

Lights On Afterschool also brings attention to Afterschool for All, an initiative that brings together individuals and organizations across the nation who support the vision that all children and youth have access to quality, safe and enriching afterschool programs. Individuals and organizations are invited to join the project based upon a commitment to, and belief in, afterschool programs. For more information on the Afterschool for All visit www.afterschoolalliance.org

In Oswego County, OCO’s Rural Afterschool Program is in APW Middle School, Hannibal Middle School and Fulton Junior High School. OCO’s Rural Afterschool Programs offers students a more social setting than the school day and allows them the opportunity to build healthy relationships with other students and adults. The smaller groups and informal settings of the program offer the students a chance to succeed academically and personally.

Students are engaged in a number of educational, recreational and enrichment activities, as well as community service activities that allow them to give back to, and feel connected to, their community in a positive way.

After School Coordinator with OCO’s Education Services, Laura Licatese, said that the program benefits youth in many ways.

“Our staff is trained to facilitate a number of groups and activities to aid the participants, including:

Social Support Groups
Community Service Groups
Youth Issues Groups that address violence prevention, pregnancy prevention education, and substance use prevention.
Life Skills Training such as communication skills, healthy relationships, budgeting, and cooking.
Recreation Activities such as games, and arts and crafts.
Enrichment Activities such as web design, music, sewing, and science experimentation.

Research has shown that students involved in After School Programs do better both academically and socially as they achieve higher grades, better attendance records and experience overall educational success,” said Licatese.

In preparation for Lights On Afterschool, participants in the Rural After School Programs will be decorating paper light bulbs that will decorate their school and raise awareness of the After School Program. “Students will decorate the paper light bulbs and include on it what the After School Program means to them,” explained Licatese.  “They will then be displayed at OCO’s main office, 239 Oneida St. on Lights On After School day, Oct. 20 and the office will be lit for the evening. We will also be holding talent shows at each of our RASP locations, APW Middle School, Hannibal Middle School, and Fulton Junior High School where parents, teachers, board members, administrators and elected officials will be entertained by our talented youth.”

Licatese added that she encourages community members to show their support for OCO’s Rural After School Programs.  “By leaving a porch light or an outside light turned on you are showing your support for after school programs and realized their importance. I would also encourage parents and other community members to contact their state and local representatives and let them know how they feel about OCO’s Rural After School Program and how it has had a positive impact on the students and the community they serve,” said Licatese.

For more information on OCO’s Rural After School Program contact Licatese at 315-598-4711 or via e-mail at [email protected]

A private, non-profit agency, OCO’s many programs touch the lives of more than 28,000 Oswego County residents each year. One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO employs more than 650 people and boasts a volunteer force of 1,000.  Now in its 45th year, OCO continues to build partnerships and is on a roll as it strives to improve the quality of life in Oswego County by helping people, supporting communities and changing lives. For more information, visit OCO’s website at www.oco.org