After the textbooks close and the school day ends, many afterschool programs throughout West Virginia open their doors to provide students with safe learning environments, physical activities, cultural programming, healthy snacks and caring adult mentors.
Keeping that quality in afterschool sites’ teaching plans is the assignment of the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network (WVSAN). Coordinated by the West Virginia University Extension Service, WVSAN has trained more than 600 childcare directors and front-line staff members since 2006.
Students, families, elected officials and other “friends of afterschool” also have participated in WVSAN- sponsored events, such as the Lights On Afterschool celebrations held around the state each October.
That support for West Virginia’s youths and their families will continue.
Jane Hange, WVSAN director and WVU Extension 4-H youth development specialist, said WVSAN has received a three-year grant of $225,000 from the C.S. Mott Foundation.
“With the C.S. Mott Foundation grant—the real centerpiece of our funding—and help from our partners,” Dr. Hange said, “WVSAN will be able to assist afterschool programs statewide through 2012 with training, technical assistance and support for development of policies for sustaining those programs.”
Besides the WVU Extension Service, network partners include the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and Verizon.
According to Hange, afterschool programs provide kids with tutoring and homework help; enriching learning opportunities (such as field trips, speakers, hands-on art projects, music and science experiments); nutritious snacks or meals; physical activities; and a supervised and nurturing environment for kids whose parents may work during the evenings and summers.
The programs also benefit students who learn at a slower pace than their peers.
“If you don’t get something during the school day, afterschool programs can assist,” she said. “Homework help and academic skill enrichment are really critical. Many families can’t afford private tutoring or don’t have providers nearby.”
WVSAN operates a Listserv with more than 350 participants. To inquire about WVSAN training, Listserv participation or Lights On Afterschool at the Capitol, or to receive information about high-quality afterschool indicators, contact Hange at 304-720-9882 or Jane.Hange@mail.wvu.edu.
For more information about the WVU Extension Service, visit http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/.
WVU News on the Web – http://wvutoday.wvu.edu
CONTACT: Ann Berry, WVU Extension Communications