WA Kids Go to Congress with a Special Request
More than 340,000 children in Washington are unsupervised after school, and three middle-school students went to Congress last week to make sure our lawmakers know about it. After-school programs are funded mostly by federal dollars, but they've received less than 10 percent of what was budgeted under the No Child Left Behind Act. Kids say they need these programs, that after-school activities beat sitting around, and they make learning fun. Eighth grader Reecie Brown of Seattle says a popular program called "Girls Rap" is a good example.
“It teaches girls how to be women, and feel leadership, and it gives you extra skills. It made me put my head up high. It was like, 'I'm gonna make something out of my life.’”
Brown shared her thoughts with several members of the Washington congressional delegation last week, and she said they were pretty good listeners. For the first time ever, the Washington legislature is helping to make up at least a little of the federal shortfall. Before adjourning last week, it allocated three million dollars for after-school programs over the next two years.
Eighth grader Evan Skandalis of Seattle says after-school programs give kids the extras they don't get during the school day, and that keeps them interested. He's taken everything from journalism to sports in the hours after school. He told lawmakers it takes more funding to offer students more choices.
“Whenever kids want to learn, they usually do learn -- more than if they don't want to learn! So if you give 'em the choices, then they'll probably want to do the programs. And the more that you get educated, the greater that you can be.”