In this section:
As parents, we all want the best for our children. In addition to doing well in school, we want them to develop talents, make friends and pursue areas of interest, whether it be robotics or racquetball.
Thankfully, afterschool activities exist to fulfill these needs. Today’s youth enjoy a remarkable variety of afterschool programs from which to choose. They can be young astronauts in the morning, mad scientists in the evening and ballerinas and musicians on the weekend. One of the most exciting aspects of working in the out-of-school time field is witnessing the sheer breadth of these programs — there are so many ways for youth to flourish. Within the last month, I have gotten word of STEM soccer balls, “life skills through stage skills” and a student-founded table tennis league – just to name a few.
However, due in large part to economic inequality, many parents lack the means to secure afterschool opportunities for their children. Long work days and heavy commutes get in the way. Fees that should be reasonable turn out to be prohibitive. Parents remain uninformed about many low-cost afterschool options, and it’s the children who miss out.
As a parent, I often worry that I’m not doing enough to encourage my children’s interests in sports, dance, music, writing or the next thing that catches their attention. I fear the talent that goes uncultivated, the “teachable moment” that gets passed up. As the family and community engagement specialist for Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, I see it as my duty to create pathways for all children — especially those in underserved communities.
I always say that afterschool programs equalize access to opportunity. Because our children are our future, we must do everything in our power to prepare them for increasingly complex challenges that require not just academic mastery but social and emotional intelligence. To do that, we must also make sure they’re safe and engaged.
Parents with means have access to a world of tutors, camps and clubs to assist in the development of their children. Families with limited means need the same opportunities. This is why CASE for Kids is so committed to strengthening afterschool programs and helping them serve increasing numbers of youth. No parent wishes to deprive a child of these opportunities.
-- Claudia Magallan, Family and Community Engagement Specialist, CASE for Kids