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CEO Editorial

IMG_5385a - CalvinSMALL.jpgMaking Out-of-School Programs a Priority

July 30, 2014 

By Calvin L. Lyons, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County

America's kids are in crisis. Consider these alarming facts about the state of our country: the US ranks 22nd in high school completion among 28 countries1; three out of 10 kids are obese or overweight2; and one in five youth lives in poverty3. The consequences of these staggering statistics are felt by our next generation and across our entire nation.

The issues facing kids today also impact our nation's economy, costing as much as $209 billion in lost taxes and higher government expenditures over the lifetimes of those who fail to graduate4. Nationally, healthcare costs to treat health issues related to childhood obesity are $14.1 billion annually5. Additionally, states spend an average of $7.1 million a day locking youth up in juvenile justice facilities6.

How do we reverse the most negative trends facing young people today?  One way is by recognizing the importance of out-of-school time. The out-of-school environment—after school and summer—plays an essential, yet often overlooked, role in transforming kids' lives and America's future.

What happens during the hours between school and home can have a dramatic impact on a child's future, especially in the areas of education, health and character development. By providing access to positive, productive programs and caring adult mentors after school and during summer, we can help change the future for our youth, our community and our country.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America puts out an annual survey of our membership as part of its National Youth Outcomes Initiative. This year's survey of more than 1,100 local members shows the following for King County children and teens:

  • In the healthy lifestyles area, 88% of Boys & Girls Club teens in King County reported abstaining from alcohol, vs. 65% of all US teens (as measured by the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report).
  • In the academic success area, 91% of BGCKC youth and teens expect to attend college (with 33% expecting to earn a master's degree, PhD, MD or equivalent).
     
  • In the good character and citizenship area, 52% of BGCKC youth and teens reported that they volunteer for a community organization at least once a month. Another 25% volunteer about once a year.

Despite the transformational impact of out-of-school programs, every day 15 million kids nationwide leave school with no place to go7, putting them at risk of being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe during these critical afterschool hours. Furthermore, during the summer, an alarming 43 million kids in America lack access to expanded learning opportunities8, increasing their risk of learning loss and falling behind before the next school year begins.

If the next generation and our nation are to succeed, it is imperative that we redefine the opportunity equation for all kids by elevating the critical role that out-of-school time plays in a child's future success. Through the Great Futures Campaign, the Campaign for America's kids, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County is asking our community to make out-of-school programs a priority and empower the next generation to achieve a great future. We are advocating on behalf of kids and convening public, private and nonprofit partners around our goal of ensuring that every child and teen has access to a safe, engaging and productive environment during out-of-school time.

Together as a community, we can provide access to life-changing programs after school and during the summer that enable kids to be successful in school and in adulthood, to be healthy and active and to develop the strong character skills needed to become America's future leaders. Together, we can transform lives as well as the future of our community and our country.

1) Source: OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), Education at a Glance 2013, OECD Indicators 2) Source: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) February 2012, and Ogden, C.L.; Carroll, M.D.; Kit, B.K. and Flegal, K.M. "Prevalence of Obesity and Trends in Body Mass Index among US Children and Adolescents, 1999-2010," Journal of the American Medical Association, (February 1, 2012) 3) Source: U.S. Census Bureau Publication, September 2013 4) Source: Teachers College, Columbia University, Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education (CBCSE), 2007 5) Source: Trasande, L. and Chatterjee, S. "The Impact of Obesity on Health Service Utilization and Costs in Childhood," Obesity, (2009) 6) Source: Justice Policy Institute (JPI) and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, 2009 (JPI) and 2013 (OJJDP) 7) Source: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, January 2013, Afterschool Alliance, October 2009 8) Source: Afterschool Alliance, 2010