Lights On Afterschool program celebration

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Sophie Clark
CONTRIBUTOR

While the Lights On Afterschool celebration held on Saturday was filled with fun family activities, it also conveyed an important message to Omaha.

Created by Collective For Youth (CFY) in 2012, Lights On Afterschool celebrates nationwide after-school programs and raises awareness about their importance.

Collective for Youth was identified in 2011 as an intermediary organization dedicated to creating quality partnerships between schools and community organizations.

CFY has “developed an entire committee of people that meet nine months out of the year to make the event a success” since the creation of Lights On Afterschool, according to the development director for CFY Nicole Everingham.

“As an intermediary,” Everingham said, “Collective for Youth connects the many stakeholders in an out-of-school time system.”

These out-of-school time programs present learning opportunities for students outside of their regular school days, with scheduled and supervised activities.

CFY’s mission is focused on quality training for and the advocation of out-of-school-time program providers.

Their overall vision, according to Everingham, “is to develop a community of thriving out-of-school time partners who are empowered to ignite the imagination and grow the minds of youth.”

In the future, CFY wants to increase student involvement with out-of-school organizations by professional development, coaching and technical assistance.

Each year in Omaha, CFY oversees out-of-school time activities for over 6,000 elementary and middle school students in 30 Omaha Public Schools.

During Saturday’s Lights on Afterschool event, Chancellor John Christensen was awarded a Community Advancement award for all the work he’s done for these local activities.

LaRon Henderson, the program and quality director for Collective Youth, was in charge of managing the volunteers for the Lights On Aftershool event.

Volunteers helped with venders, managed activities, served food and directed buses. In total, there were eight UNO student volunteers.

According to Henderson, there are more ways UNO students can become involved with CFY. One way is to volunteer in the CFY office and help with data entry, surveys and administrative work.

Henderson said the biggest way to volunteer is to volunteer “on-site.”

“This is actually going in and working with students. It could be reading a story—Whatever is specific to that site,” Henderson said.

Volunteers can choose from 30 sites across Omaha.

CFY is always looking for staff members to be involved in the programs, and volunteers that “want to share a hobby or passion with the students,” Everingham said.

Volunteers are able to not only help individual students learn, but learn a lot themselves, according to Everingham.

To get involved, email info@collectiveforyouth.org.

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